The biggest challenge women leaders face, according to research we conducted from women leaders, male leaders and HR professionals, is Taming the Impostor.
Impostor syndrome is when people – often successful high achievers – feel like frauds or doubt their abilities in spite of evidence that is obvious to everyone else except them. Sadly, knowing what impostor syndrome is doesn’t lessen its negative impact.
What does reduce the impact are practices that disrupt and ultimately quiet the negative self-talk. The first thing to realize is there is a committee of Vicious Voices in your head, talking 24/7, representing your worst fears, and never the truth. Once you realize you have a choice in how you listen to them, you can engage differently.
A key question to interrupt the committee chatter is “What is the evidence?” When you answer, be objective or better yet, answer like you’re your best friend.
A client recently was worried about a contract negotiation and felt that asking for more would have the Board Chair think poorly of her. When asked for the evidence, her response was she had just received a glowing performance review and a two-year contract extension request. As she was speaking, she could hear the evidence, and a smile spread to her face as she realized what the evidence actually showed. She quieted the voices and requested what she wanted with clarity and confidence.
This, by the way, is a great example of self-coaching. It requires pausing, acknowledging the voices, interrupting the cycle by asking “What IS the evidence?” and answering objectively. Self-coaching is a great tool, and sometimes it’s still difficult to break the cycle. In that case, reach out to someone you trust, ask them to be your bigger brain and help you identify the actual evidence. Chances are, they will share a long list of supporting examples and facts, and you will realize how unfounded and untrue the ranting of the vicious voices in the first place.
Gisele Garcia Shelley, Executive Coach, PCC, Nyack, New York www.theglenbrookgroup.com
Tags: bold, leadership, womensleadership