Keltie was pleased to be one of the hosts of IP Inclusive’s recent webinar on Imposter Syndrome with guest speaker Jo Maughan. The session was chaired by Carol Arnold with contributions from Andrea Brewster.
Although all the speakers were present at Keltie, the room arrangements meant that the local audience were actually located in a different room to the speakers!
Jo Maughan is a former tax director who is now a career and leadership coach. Imposter Syndrome is a popular topic at the moment and the dual aims of the webinar were (i) to inspire you that you are not alone if you experience imposter syndrome and (ii) to let you know that you can do something about it.
Wikipedia defines imposter syndrome as a concept describing individuals who are marked by an inability to internalise their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. The term was coined in 1978 by clinical psychologists Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes.
Imposter syndrome is being talked about more now in popular culture and high profile sufferers include Kate Winslet and Emma Watson. Research apparently suggests that women are more susceptible than men, though Jo questioned whether this was actually true, speculating that women may just be more likely to admit it.
Jo recounted a personal story about her experiences with imposter syndrome from the early 2000s when she was working as a tax director. At the eleventh hour of a deal she noticed a discrepancy between the deal documents and the accounts and wrote a disclosure letter highlighting the issue. An all night session then followed with the potential buyer expressing concern about the contents of the letter. Jo found herself catastrophizing the situation and, despite the deal eventually going through and receiving positive feedback about the action she took, felt the effects of imposter syndrome.
It was noted at this point that imposter syndrome affects different people in different ways. For example, it might manifest as self doubt or alternatively as an underlying panic (perhaps after taking on a task in an impulsive manner).
Jo indicated she now controls her critical inner voice by managing her state (by recognising how she feels in the present moment and then using tools to help her change her state if needed) and also by managing her inner voice.
Jo then took the audience through a tool for managing state, positive anchoring. The tool operates by creating a link between a positive memory and a subtle physical cue (e.g. touching thumb to little finger).
A number of other techniques for tackling imposter syndrome were discussed including keeping a confidence log, assuming the role of a confident person and writing down reasons (50 of them) why you can do a specified task.
Jo noted that confidence takes practice and criticism to a sufferer can validate the feelings of the syndrome. People suffering from imposter syndrome may present as quiet or apologising for trivial matters.
Carol concluded the session by noting that imposter syndrome is common. Many people suffer from it in all walks of life. It’s more than just a lack of confidence as it additionally includes feelings of being an imposter in a role.
IP Inclusive – http://www.ipinclusive.org.uk/
Jo Maughan – http://www.jomaughan.co.uk/contact/
Mark Richardson 20 September 2017