You’ve done it. Everything you have worked so hard for has been recognised. The late nights, the extra work, its been noticed and you have been promoted into a leadership role. Amazing! You get to lead a team. You get to set the tone for your team and drive the teams objectives forward. It will be fun they said. It will be great they said. YOU will be great, they said.

Then reality hits. You’ve never managed people before. In fact, you are now managing people who last week were your colleagues. You used to whinge together over lunch about your manager - now you are that person. Sh*t. Will they talk about you behind your back too? Will they think you aren’t capable, or that you shouldn’t have been promoted over them? Are you even capable? Oh gosh, people will realise I can’t do this! I can’t do this!!!! (insert minor melt down…) These tend to be some of the thoughts that I hear people go through the first time they start to lead a team.

HELLO Imposter Syndrome – nice to see you again! Welcome to the club of women (and some men!) who experience this every day. Imposter Syndrome can present itself in many ways and on very different occasions – it is a “different strokes for different folks”, kinda syndrome this one! Ever had that all-encompassing feeling of self-doubt, that feeling that everyone around you is questioning your ability, or your worth? That, my friend, is the ever-pesky Imposter Syndrome kicking into gear.

I used to be terrible for this and was the absolute epitome of what Imposter Syndrome stands for. And then one day, I realised something.  Not one person actually told me that I couldn’t do something, or that I wasn’t capable. In fact, quite the opposite. It was all in my head.  I was the one who told myself I wasn’t capable.

Are you reading this wondering if Imposter Syndrome has sunk its pesky little claws into you?

Here’s what Imposter Syndrome might feel like:

  • Being 100% sure you are going to fail at almost anything you set out to;
  • Devaluing or being self-deprecating of your experience or expertise in front of others because someone else might appear more confident, more experienced, older, wiser, than you;
  • Feeling like a fraud and like someone is going to find out about you, or your lack of ability; or
  • Being sure that someone else’s leadership style, ability, confidence is better than yours.

Being promoted is a big deal, so firstly, well done!  Moving from an individual contributor role, where you are ultimately in control of your own deliverables, to a role where you are assisting a team of others to deliver is a big shift and it can feel overwhelming. But, don’t panic – here are some things for you to consider as part of your transition into a leadership role:

  1. Accept that there is not just one “awesome” leadership style - and STOP comparing yourself to others – YOU are also awesome.
  2. Be prepared for a little bit of awkwardness at first – Transitioning to a new role, let alone a leadership role will always be a little awkward. People get used to things being a certain way, and when things change, it can be a challenging for some people initially. Be ok with this.  It is not a reflection on your ability, it is just the process of change.
  3. Acknowledge that you had to play some part in your current success – it doesn’t all come down to luck, or whatever other B/S you have been kidding yourself that it is. You were promoted because something was seen in you – now get out of your own head and prove those people right!
  4. Ask your team what they look for in a good leader – this will not only show your team that you care, but also give a you a great insight into what support they are looking for from you.
  5. Call yourself out – when you experience the feelings of self-doubt, or like you aren’t doing a good job in your new role, call it Imposter Syndrome. Once you put a name on it, it almost makes it easier to accept. Now that you have accepted it, squash the self-deprecating thoughts and move the F**k on!
  6. Get a wing-woman – whether you have someone in your life you can do this with, or you need to consider seeking out a coach, or a mentor, get someone to help call you out on these feelings and put the actions in place that you need to (in addition to the above) to get you past it.

Moving into a leadership role can feel scary, a bit awkward (particularly when you are now managing people who you used to be hierarchically equal to), and you start to feel like your days have a very different meaning and purpose.  Don’t panic. This is not a reflection on you, or your abilities – this is just the awkwardness of transitioning to a new role. Be confident. Be brave and believe that you were given this opportunity because you CAN do it.

If despite following the above advice, you are still feeling like you are suffering from Imposter Syndrome, perhaps it is time to invest in yourself to learn how to manage it.  I can help. 

I help women get out of their own ways. I help you deal with the overthinking. The Imposter Syndrome. The self-doubt. All the things currently getting in your way of being a confident, kick a** woman in your workplace and in your life.