Stop Doing That! Dealing With Imposter Syndrome

When it comes to being a new manager or leader, and especially in a very technical environment, one of the most common things I am asked to help with is people who suffer with Imposter Syndrome.

This week I had a few responses to a post I put out about making an impact in your business.

Two of the responses were something that about half my clients could have written – though I am sure both the people who wrote them though they were the only one.

The gist of it was that they had been in a very hands on operational management role, and had recently moved into a strategic role.  They were enjoying it very much but they felt like they were being paid too much.

What do I mean by that?

First of all – having never been in this role before, they were struggling with how hands off it was.  They were enjoying spending time with their people but weren’t sure what else they should be doing.  One of them actually said, “I feel guilty – like what am I being paid for if I don’t have too much to do?”.

And both of them felt they were ‘winging it’.  In other words, they were both suffering from Imposter Syndrome. 

This is really common when moving into any new role, but especially so when you are moving from a technical to a leadership role, or an operational to a strategic role.  The feeling that if you are not actually producing something then you are not justifying your salary – is a very common feeling.

But of course, the value you bring as a Leader is not measured in how many widgets you produce but in how many widgets your TEAM produces.  And how happy they are producing those widgets.  And how happy your customers are with the widgets.  And with how happy the stakeholders or shareholders are with the outcomes.  And how happy the board are with the vision and direction.  And with a number of other things. 

The job of the leader is to lead, to inspire, to anticipate, predict and create the future for their company.  What could be more important than that?

The thing is – it is easy to see why someone who is very technical could struggle with this sort of career move. When you are technical, you measure yourself by what you produce. How many proposals have you written this month, or how much code have you written, or how many projects have you signed off.

When you become a leader – those things are still happening in your business but they are not being done directly by you, or in some cases, not even by your team (as they themselves have teams who are actually completing the work).

And so sometimes it can seem like your job is to sit in meetings.

However, the role of the leader is so vital to an organisation. Get it wrong and the cascading effect is truly awful. Many lives are affected by a leader and most people (who are unhappy) do not leave companies – they leave a specific manager or leader.

Equally – get this right and you can have a massive impact and increase productivity, creativity and results hugely. After all, 2, or 10, or 100 heads are better than 1. As long as there is just 1 vision!

So – if you feel you might be suffering from Imposter Syndrome, and would like some support with this new or potential career move – drop me a line on julie@thinkbedoleadership.com

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