The Rise of Executive Imposter Syndrome

The human mind is a curious thing.  Every day we are engaged in the real world with a thousand different things that come our way, but we are also deeply in touch with the stories going on in our head. Our mind is continually making observations, raising doubts, marshalling emotion, and all this chaos is completely invisible from the outside. 

Unfortunately, most of our self-talk is not productive.  And in fact, it can be downright harmful.  A perfect example of this is the phenomenon of imposter syndrome. 

Imposter syndrome refers to an internal experience that you have where you believe that you are not as competent as others perceive you to be.  You feel like you’re an imposter in whatever space you are in because you lack the confidence and self-belief to hold that space with pride.  This chronic sense of inadequacy can paralyse us if we’re not careful. 

This hits very close to home in the affordable housing sector because there is still a serious lack of diversity at leadership level – housing providers and professional services. So, for women and Black, Asian and minority ethnic leaders who have recently moved into executive positions, it’s not uncommon for this imposter syndrome to fester.   

Why am I here?
Do I really deserve this?
Do I have what it takes? 

 These are completely natural reactions when you’re working in a system that doesn’t show you representative role models.  It’s likely that you don’t see many other female leaders or leaders of colour that you can look up to.  You feel like you don’t belong.  You might even start to wonder whether you were chosen for your position just because of diversity requirements, and not because you actually deservethe role and the best candidate.  Or even worse, you might feel that you don’t have the luxury of speaking up at all – so you crawl back into your shell, taking up physical space – but not imprinting your value on the organisation. 

This is dangerous self-talk, and we need to do something about it both as individuals, and at an organisational level.  We’ve written before about how company culture needs to set the tone from the top and holistically support all those who are moving up through the organisation, giving them the confidence and belief that they need.    

 That’s why, here at Connex, we are hosting a roundtable discussion about the Rise of Executive Imposter Syndrome and what we can do about it.  In this virtual event, we are going to engage with a panel of thoughtful and courageous leaders who will be looking at this phenomenon and share some of their experiences. We will also be examining whether  imposter syndrome directs our view toward fixing the individual rather than considering the role of the workplace and culture contributes to perpetuating this 

The speakers are as follows: 

We’ll come together to discuss how organisations can support and validate their staff, how we as individuals can improve our own self-talk, and the role of coaching, mentoring, and sponsorship in tackling imposter syndrome. 

What you might be surprised to learn, is that imposter syndrome is not something unique to you.  In fact, we all are suffering from it in one way or another.  And events like this help us to find solidarity and community – so we can tackle this together. 

Friday 4 June, 2pm.  Register here.  We really hope you’ll join us!