Overcoming Imposter Syndrome: Recognizing Your Worth as a Leader

Imposter Syndrome. Many women leaders I talk to secretly experience it, but it can be deadly to our self-esteem and our careers. Here's what to do about it.

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Overcoming Imposter Syndrome: Recognizing Your Worth as a Leader

“I’m not good enough.”

“I don’t have the right experience.”

“I’m not cut out for this job.”

“So-and-so could do a better job than me.”

These are the kinds of thoughts that are going through our heads when we are experiencing imposter syndrome, a phenomenon that I see over and over again in women leaders.

Part of the problem can lie within our environments. Unfortunately, when our success is measured by unrealistic standards and comparison to others, imposter syndrome is almost a natural outcome.

But it doesn’t have to be.

Here’s the reality:

Imposter syndrome is a silent barrier that holds many women leaders back from fully embracing their potential. It’s time to silence the inner critic and step into our power.

Imposter syndrome thoughts and feelings, while perfectly normal, are ALL LIES!

They are the lies generated by your saboteurs, those fear-based gremlins that work very hard at keeping us playing it safe.

Yes, safe.

Those thoughts and feelings are usually about safety.

Some questions to ask yourself when imposter syndrome strikes are:

  • What am I really afraid of?
  • Is that fear based on reality, or am I projecting?
  • When did I need this fear in the past to protect myself?
  • Do I still need it now?

When you get to the bottom of your fear, more likely than not you will realize that you don’t need it.

You’ll learn to recognize your patterns and repetitive fears that are based on behaviors that you needed to survive at some point in your life. But you probably don’t need them now!

It all goes back to Certainty, which I discussed a few weeks ago. If you are certain that you have the skills, talents, and ability to grow into the role, you don’t need the fear. (Check out the article here if you missed it.)

Head back to your list of what you know without a shadow of a doubt that you can do or you can learn. Read it again. Post it where you can see it every day.

Nurture your certainty daily through positive self-reflection, affirmation, and absolute belief in your unique strengths.

And when you hear those fear-based thoughts again.


Take a few minutes to breathe deeply, tune into your body, and recognize that the fears aren’t real.

Then – and this is important – replace those negative thoughts with positive ones. Research shows that we need three positive thoughts for every negative one to be at our best. Three!

So, for every negative thought, think of three positives. Here are some examples:

  • Recall a time when you felt the same way and were successful. Remember the scenario in detail.
  • Bring to mind the compliments people have paid you for your work or your achievements.
  • Remember the gratitude others have expressed to you.
  • Think of three of your most outstanding accomplishments.
  • Be grateful for three wonderful things in your life.

In other words, value yourself. Acknowledge that others value you. Don’t be fake. Don’t force positivity. Allow yourself to remember and integrate what you have done and what you can do.

Then, reassess the situation, but only after you are feeling calm and positive.

Were your fears legitimate? Or were they just that old imposter trying to keep you safe?

If your fears are legitimate, of course, you need to pay attention and address them.

But most of the time, the fears aren’t real. They just feel that way.

Your thoughts create your reality. Challenge your negative self-talk and embrace the evidence of your greatness. You already are everything you need to be to succeed.

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