Ah, the dreaded imposter syndrome. As women at the top, we know it well. We hear about it all of the time. For executive women, it manifests in feeling that we’re out of place. Like people are eventually going to pull the veil on our act and realize we’re a fraud.
You’re not alone. Far from it. Imposter syndrome is heavily prevalent for professional women, especially women of color.
Whether you realize it or not, it could be stopping you from getting the role you deserve, achieving your dreams, or shattering the glass ceiling.
After all, success starts in your head. You need the right paradigms and mindset to make boss moves and push your career to the next level.
But how do you get past it?
According to one study, imposter syndrome can be prevalent in as much as 82% of people! And, guess what? It has the highest rate among people of color.
Now, let me show you how to overcome imposter syndrome and actually work in your favor to transform your career.
What is imposter syndrome?
Let’s get back to the basics. What is imposter syndrome exactly? Imposter syndrome is the feeling that you aren’t competent as other people in your field. You feel as if you’ve gotten lucky to get where you are and eventually you’ll be exposed.
And interestingly, it’s often linked to perfectionism. You might feel like you have to do a perfect job every single time or colleagues will look down upon you. It’s not uncommon for high achieving women to feel imposter syndrome the most often.
Brian Daniel Norton, a psychotherapist and executive coach commented on this saying, “Women, women of colour, especially black women, as well as the LGBTQ community are most at risk. When you experience systemic oppression or are directly or indirectly told your whole life that you are less-than or underserving of success and you begin to achieve things in a way that goes against a long-standing narrative in the mind, imposter syndrome will occur.”
You’re not odd for feeling this way. In a way, the odds are stacked against women in professional fields that can make imposter syndrome easier to experience.
For example, for every 100 men hired and elevated to management, only 72 women experience the same thing.
41% of companies also don’t set gender representation targets for senior positions.
How do you know if you have imposter syndrome?
There are many different symptoms of imposter syndrome. Some are subtle and others are much more obvious. Here they are.
You doubt yourself and what you’re capable of
Have you ever doubted what you’re capable of in your career? Perhaps you don’t think you’re competent enough to make a power move from VP to C-suite for example.
You think, “One day when I have the skills and experience” but this is a mental trap. You are ready and capable right now.
You may also be experiencing imposter syndrome if you agonize over every little detail or flaw in your work (or your job search, for that matter)… you have a fear of not being able to succeed.
You attribute your success to things outside your control
Be honest. Women with imposter syndrome tend to attribute success and accomplishments to external factors. “I got lucky” or “I was just in the right place at the right time” might go through your head. It’s also common to downplay your expertise, knowledge, and capabilities.
The truth is that you are successful because of YOU.
Your hard work, dedication, and skills got you to where you are today. Embrace it!
Don’t let self-doubt or a lack of confidence stop you from networking, meeting decision-makers, and getting your dream job.
You fear you won’t live up to expectations
Another common experience for professional women with imposter syndrome is the feeling of not being able to live up to expectations. These might be friends, family, colleagues, or bosses.
You fear that you won’t be able to do what they ask and will feel ashamed for it. Worse of all? It makes you feel like you’ll be exposed for being a fraud and getting lucky in the first place.
Funny how it never happens that way, right? As I mentioned earlier, a lot of these are mental hurdles you have to improve upon to make a power move. That’s one of the first steps to overcoming imposter syndrome as a professional woman.
This brings me to my next point.
How to overcome imposter syndrome as a professional woman to get the role you deserve
Okay, now that you understand what is imposter syndrome is and how it manifests, let’s talk about the good news—how to overcome it and attune to the frequency of getting your dream role, moving up from a director or VP position.
Realize that you’re not alone
It’s easy to think that if you have imposter syndrome that you’re an outlier. It’s you and only you that’s experiencing this problem.
That couldn’t be further from the truth.
In fact, 70% of the population experience imposter syndrome at some point. This is liberating to know.
You’re not the only woman that’s feeling this way. It’s a normal thing, and in fact, it tends to happen more to accomplished individuals.
Take it as a compliment and change your perspective. Start reflecting on all of the goals you’ve achieved. How powerful you are. The hard work and dedication you’ve put into creating an impressive career.
Study successful women and how they’ve accomplished success
One of the best ways to push your career to the next level is to learn from the best. Who exactly? The women you aspire to be like. Maybe these are the C-suite, VPs, or executives of Fortune companies. Perhaps they’re politicians or the ladies that have changed the world.
Study them. What did they specialize in? What strategies did they deploy in their career? How did they overcome the corporate adversity of being a woman or person of colour?
Read their autobiographies, watch their interviews, and connect with them on social. Their success will slowly rub off on you and will help you become a more powerful woman.
As a result, you can shed imposter syndrome and start moving toward the career you want. Read my article on the highest-earning female CEO’s and how they got to where they are to get the ball rolling.
I also suggest listening to Michelle Obama (yes, really) speak about her experience with imposter syndrome.
Network with likeminded individuals
You’re the sum of the five people you surround yourself with. I’m a firm believer in this. It’s a fact that 80% of professionals agree networking is key to success.
We need to stick together, support one another, and help push each other to become the best versions of ourselves. You need to network to meet the right people, hiring managers, and alike.
You can do this through social media, email, phone calls, and in person. Most people sit around waiting for opportunities to come to them. Start being proactive about meeting decision-makers in big companies and don’t be surprised when more success comes your way.
Here’s a secret. You can use a free tool like Hunter.io to find the contact information of any decision maker in an organization. If you know companies you’d love to work for, enter their website.
This will display most (if not all) of the company’s contacts, including email, phone, and social profiles.
But, don’t underestimate the power of networking with other like-minded people. As a recruiter for Fortune 100 companies, I know the importance of having the right people around you.
Meetup.com is a priceless tool you can leverage as well. Massive and you have to do digging but still you can search your region for career meetups.
Select an event that you find interesting and it will provide you with more details.
Click the attend button or buy a ticket depending on the individual meetup. Most right now are online (I know, bummer) but they’re still an awesome way to build a powerful network if you ask the right questions.
My final thoughts on imposter syndrome and professional women
It’s so easy to think that you’re the only one feeling this way. I get it. The reality is that a large majority of people experience imposter syndrome at least once in their lifetime.
The more professional and successful you are, the more likely you are to experience this.
Imposter syndrome tends to manifest in professional women through:
- Feeling as if their accomplishments were based on luck.
- Believing they’ll be exposed for being incompetent.
- Doubting what you’re capable of.
Luckily this is something you can break out of to land the job of your dreams. These paradigms could be easily holding you back from making a power move.
Learning from successful women you look up to and realizing you’re not the only person experiencing this phenomenon is a great start. One of the most effective steps is to create a supportive and powerful network.
Every day BossmakeHer helps the world’s leading women take their power back through result-driven job search support unlike ANYTHING else in the market.