Have you ever felt like you don’t belong? Like you don’t have what it takes to lead? That you shouldn’t be leading? That you’re a fraud? That you’re just not good enough? Do you find that you are constantly overworking, are not able to appreciate your accomplishments, or that you micro-manage those around you?
If so, then it’s likely you have experienced imposter syndrome which over 70% of people do…especially leaders. They are constantly under an enormous amount of pressure, they always need to have the right answers, to come up with the best ideas, and to be able to solve any problem. Leaders are people just like anyone else and they have the same fears and doubts.
I put together a video which I hope will inspire and motivate you. Please check it out below and if you want more content like this you can subscribe to my Youtube channel.
Here’s how leaders (and anyone for that matter) can overcome imposter syndrome next time it creeps up.
Surround yourself with people who are better than you
If you are constantly surrounding yourself with people that you more capable than, then you have a problem. This is the old way of thinking about leadership where everyone is supposed to be inferior to you. As the leader, you need to make sure that everyone around you is more talented and capable than you! If you’re smarter than everyone else on the team then you create a bottleneck where everyone will turn to you for everything, eventually this will collapse. You need to be around people who will push you and challenge you to grow.
Be vulnerable with your team
When is the last time you said, “I don’t know?” In my book, The Future Leader, I talk about this under the mindset of the Servant section. Being vulnerable isn’t a weakness it’s a strength. When you are ok with saying “I don’t know” you take some of the pressure off of yourself to have all of the right answers and you empower your people to step up.
Focus on what you are learning instead of what you are doing (from Carol Dweck)
This is something Carol Dweck talks about in her great book, Mindset. Shifting your thinking this way allows you to make mistakes because you see them as an inevitable part of the learning process. In other words you don’t focus on the mistake you made, you focus on what you learned instead.
Practice positive self-talk
I play competitive chess and racquetball and whenever I get a chess puzzle wrong or miss a shot in racquetball by default self talk tends to be “you idiot, how could you do that?” Sometimes I say these things out loud and if my wife is around to hear it she will say, “don’t talk to my husband that way.” I’m constantly trying to improve my self-talk to be more positive and encouraging, saying things like “you can do it” or “what did you learn from that?” How you talk to yourself makes all the difference in the world and you can lift yourself up or put yourself down, which one will it be?
Repeat things and know your stuff
Bruce Lee once said, “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” I remember when I gave my first talk over 15 years ago, I was terrified and wearing an oversize suit. But over the years the more I started to give talks the more confident and better I got. As a leader, sometimes it’s good to keep putting yourself into that uncomfortable zone until you eventually become comfortable with it. The second piece to this is “know your stuff.” In my recent book I interviewed over 140 CEOs and teamed up with LinkedIn to survey over 14,000 people. One of the reasons I did this was to actually have data and support for my ideas. My previous book on employee experience looked at 252 companies. Do your homework and make sure you have the support needed for your ideas and conclusions. If I walk into a boardroom and present something to an executive team, I know that I have the data and research to back up whatever I’m saying.
I hope you find these tips helpful. These are all things I practice myself on a regular basis. Do you have another tip you want to share with me?
Leadership is changing. What are the skills and mindsets you need to master in order to lead in the new world of work? According to over 140 of the world’s top CEOs there are 4 mindsets and 5 skills that leaders need to master. Learn what they are and hear directly from these leaders by downloading the PDF here.
If you enjoyed the article and want more content like this here’s what you can do:
- Subscribe to The Future of Work Podcast where I interview business leaders around the world each week.
- Grab a copy of The Future Leader which has been endorsed by the CEOs of MasterCard, Best Buy, Oracle, Audi, Unilever, Domino’s Pizza, Ritz Carlton, Kaiser, and Marshall Goldsmith. It explores the most essential skills and mindsets for future leaders.
- If you are or want to be an entrepreneur then my wife and I just launched a brand new podcast on how to Be Your Own Boss, called the BYOB Podcast where we share what we did and how we did it. You can subscribe to that here.