People who are promoted to leadership positions often feel inadequate in their new roles. Women, in particular, lack confidence and don’t understand why others should have faith in their ability.
The ‘imposter syndrome’ is well researched and documented. In the ‘Human Enterprise’ newsletter of March 27 2012, in an excellent article on this topic, Paul Mitchell says:
‘These days of course we have a label for everything, it's called "The Imposter Syndrome". Many executives suffer from it. Pushing forward, yet wondering whether their strategy really will be successful, or they will be "found out".
Despite every evidence of their competence and success, internally they feel like frauds, and don't feel they deserve the success they have achieved.’
There is a difference between feeling like an impostor and being one. And we all know that impostors do exist! They come in many shapes and forms. And we need to be alert and discriminating to ‘pick up something fishy’.
This morning I uncovered a real-life situation. Let me give you some background. I love staying at the Oyster Box Hotel, Umhlanga. This isn’t just a place or just a hotel. It has a soul. And part of my daily ritual is going for a walk along the Promenade at sunrise. The sight of the sun rising over the sea has magical qualities.
However, this morning, before leaving the hotel, I went to ‘reception’ and said ‘good morning’ to Skabenga (Zulu and means ‘rascal’), the characterful resident cat and took some photos of him. Please have a careful look at his coat and tail. This is important evidence.
A while ago, Skabenga was publicly accused of allegedly attacking a dog (or was it a human?) on the Promenade. We all knew that Skabenga was not the guilty party. There had to be an impostor! The General Manager of the Oyster Box responded to the press coverage saying that he was surprised that Skabenga should leave the comfort of his five star luxury living to mingle with the common folk on the Promenade. So, if he doesn’t ever leave the hotel grounds, how could he be the guilty party? Really!
Those who believed in the innocence of their feline friend suspected that there was an imposter. They ‘smelled a rat’! And they were right – there definitely was ‘something fishy’. Today I captured the culprit on camera. I felt like a paparazzi (or would I be a mamma-razzi?) as I stalked the feline imposter as he/she prowled the Promenade. I managed to capture him/her on camera. Have a look at the next photo and pay particular attention to the coat and tail. Those don’t belong to Skabenga, do they?
So, I hope that those who are perpetuating the confusion and trying to ruin Skabenga’s reputation are now satisfied that we can prove that there is an ‘imposter’. Being really kind we could refer to him/her as a ‘look alike’. But the only thing that is similar is that they are both cats. One (Skabenga) happens to love the ‘good life’. The other ‘prowls the Promenade’. So I hope this ‘character assassination’ will now stop. It isn’t fair.
I have given you a distinction. Sometimes people feel like a fake (when others believe in you) and you thus experience ‘the imposter syndrome’. On the other hand are those who purposely pretend to be what they are not in order to mislead others. But let’s give the ‘Fake Skabenga’ the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps this cat was not purposely trying to mislead others into thinking that his/her ‘dirty deeds’ should be attributed to Skabenga? Possibly he wasn’t saying: ‘I’m Skabenga, the Famous Cat, and I attack dogs on the Promenade’? We should consider that it was possibly the humans who mistook him/her for Skabenga? This would be a case of ‘mistaken identity’. Or perhaps they purposefully embarked on a systematic ‘character assassination’ campaign? We may never know the real story. But we now have proof that Umhlanga has at least two cats that live on the verge of the Promenade.
So, do you sometimes feel like an impostor? Do you feel you are not good enough for your current position? Years ago when I was elected to a leadership position in a male-dominated organisation I was given some valuable advice: ‘when you are on the stage, the audience will sometimes throw roses…. and at other times they may also throw rocks. Be prepared for both’. The negative comments sometimes make us feel more insecure and we become ‘over sensitive’ to people’s comments. And going one step further, these can also take the form of ‘character assassination’ – as in the case of Skabenga.
‘Executive coaching’ can help individuals settle into new positions. One of the CEO’s whom I was coaching last year, was on the point of resigning as she felt she wasn’t performing well enough in her new position. After six months through commitment to her coaching programme, she ‘began to fly’ (her words) and has continued to excel in all areas of her life.
Executive Coaching helps to turn ‘stumbling blocks’ into ‘stepping stones’. One-on-one coaching can form an integral part of leadership development. For more information please contact me - firstname.lastname@example.org, Phone: +27 33 3425432, Mobile: + 27 82 4993311.