Learning leadership skills can nix imposter syndrome
Imposter syndrome is tough on leaders. But as most nonprofit leaders moved up the ranks from front-line positions, it makes sense. Unfortunately, we don't always have the training, support and guidance to learn leadership strategy, techniques and skills. It's time to change that!
I recently watched the movie Hillbilly Elegy and loved it!
There is a scene where the main character goes to a fancy dinner and steps away to phone his girlfriend to get her help. Over the phone, his girlfriend teaches him a quick strategy to know which forks to use and when.
This scene brought back memories from when I first went to business dinners at upper-end restaurants and had no idea how to order wine or speak certain words on the menu and certainly not which utensil to use.
I didn't fit the "leadership" mold
When I recognized how uncultured I was, it always brought the feeling that I didn't fit in. It made me feel that I didn't have what it took to be at that leadership level.
I suffered from Imposter Syndrome
Imposter Syndrome happens when we think we don't have the capacity, skills or education to do the job we are in. It leads to self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy. We fear that others will discover we aren't knowable, capable, or equipped to do the job, which leads to feeling like a fraud or imposter.
Here's the thing, neither of my parents has a high school education, and we farmed. I know differently now, but back then, I felt like that was two strikes against me. The belief partly stems from my Dad's frequent quip about being "just a dumb farmer." That belief unconsciously stayed with me, and as a result, I was undoubtedly always comparing myself to others who were more cultured and had more educated parents.
I didn't have enough of this:
That unconscious pattern of thinking continued in my career. I never felt I had "enough" to fit in.
Do you have enough to fit the leadership mold?
However, "not-enoughness" strikes us all in various ways and at different times.
Where do you feel "not-enoughness?"
If you aren't careful, that train of thinking will get wreak havoc with your confidence!
On this podcast, I talk to Malory Erickson about "not enoughness" in fundraising. Mallory covers four strategies on how to overcome "not-enoughness." The strategies aren't just about fundraising, though. Listen and see how they fit with your role as well!
Strategy # 1
The first strategy that Mallory talks about is to embrace your emotions, as I am always encouraging you to as well. We need to name our feelings and identify what body sensations and thoughts go with those emotions. It's the second step of The Inner Guidance Cycle called Ponder.
PONDER stage of The Inner Guidance Cycle
Here's how it looks at work
When I would sit at a contract meeting, I often didn't understand the legal mumbo-jumbo on the page in front of me.
Have the courageous conversations
In the podcast, Mallory suggests it becomes less intimidating when we talk about what we feel with other people at work. She encourages us to create a workplace culture where it's safe to say what we feel, and as the leader, that starts with you.
Here's an example
For example, I could have bravely spoken up at that meeting to say, "Hey, you know what, I feel a little foolish for saying this, but I don't understand what this word means, and I don't get what this implies." I bet that others around the table felt the same way and would have been relieved for someone to speak up.
Strategy # 2
Another strategy Mallory talks about is to get a hold of your thoughts. Self-talk like this wreaks havoc with your confidence:
You need to get a hold of these thoughts and reframe them to ease the doubt, increase your confidence and overcome that imposter syndrome feeling.
When you work through the Inner Guidance Cycle by stopping (pause) to ask yourself what you are thinking and feeling (ponder), you can remind yourself (pivot) that you're not the only one at that moment not understanding the words on the legal document in front of you. That can give you the courage to speak up (proceed) and say what many people in the room are feeling.
To understand and begin using The Inner Guidance Cycle in your leadership and life, grab Mastering Confidence and start working through the self-reflective exercises in it.
For the other two strategies on how to overcome not-enoughness, tune to the podcast with Mallory Erickson here
YOU ARE ENOUGH!
You are enough, my dear! Just the way you are!
What's more, the world, your organization, your team and your clients need you.
They need what you have, what you offer and what you can help them with!
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Women leaders often hit a point where they find themselves in over their heads and wondering if they have what it takes to lead.