One of my friends is a talented CEO, with an amazing professional track record. Last year, she founded a terrific startup with a social mission. She built a team, launched an MVP, and saw great results with high engagement from users. When she was preparing for a seed round of funding, she asked a few friends, including me, for help with the pitch. While she was presenting, I realized that she was occupied with an explanation of why she can lead the company. Despite her accolades, her explanation seemed defensive, and I was under the impression that she felt unworthy. Why does it seem this way?
This past year at my own start-up, Circles, I interviewed almost 100 candidates to lead our R&D department. I met great people with a tremendous passion for leveraging technology to make the world a better place. A majority of those candidates were men (90%+); only a few were women. One thing I noticed was that there’s a stark difference between men and women in the way they perceive themselves. In essence, average men thought they were A players, while amazingly accomplished professional women thought of themselves as good at best. I found myself again asking, why does it seem this way?
I recognized this phenomenon as imposter syndrome when someone doesn’t recognize their own personal value and feels as though they are an “imposter.” It feels as though everyone at work respects you and listens to your opinion, internally, you feel it’s only a matter of time until they find out you’re not worthy. You think you don’t really know what to do, you feel like a fake, and if someone would ask you a question and you provide the wrong answer, you’d be found out and the “true” you would be revealed.
Statistically, 75% of professional women struggle with imposter syndrome. This is a huge number. It means 75% of professional leaders in the world think less of themselves. I think this number can’t be related to “personal” situations. 75% means this is a phenomenon,, something is broken with the system, and the way we do things – the way we educate, the way we manage, and the way we communicate. So, the question is who will rise to the challenge to make sure 75% of professional women change their perspective to consider themselves worthy of where they are and how they got there?
As a CEO, I focus on making sure we’re working on the right things. So, one might ask why I have a personal interest in this matter and why I care that professional women understand their value? In the company my partner, Dan Landa and I are building, we are looking to the future, focusing on empowering women to know their value and their worth, We strongly believe our values should be reflected in our everyday actions.
This year, we decided to take it a step further and offer 100 women free training on how to moderate a Circle of support for women. We are partnering with communities like SuperSonas and companies like Radware to offer this training to their female members and employees. Each moderator will lead a group of 6-8 women, and by leveraging the group’s power, we’re sure all participants will get tools to help them feel better about themselves and recognize their powerful inner strength. And what is our leading topic for these Circles?
You might have guessed it: “imposter syndrome.”