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The Imposter Syndrome: Celebrate It!
During a recent coaching session with an executive leader, I heard something that many leaders struggle with at one time or another in their careers. My client said to me, "I'm afraid that any day someone is going to discover that I don't know what I'm doing."
Leading your employees and company through the unknown is the very definition of a leader. Think of even a concrete example of leadership, such as the role of a leader in a situation such as hiking in the wilderness. The leader is someone who is confident in his ability to face the unknown, and make good decisions about which direction to take or how to surmount a variety of obstacles. He isnâ€™t afraid to blaze the trail. And, as a member of the group, you put your trust in the leader to take you on that journey. As an executive leader, if youâ€™re never in the space of the unknown, then youâ€™re probably not leading. You may be playing it safe; just managing the status quo.
Itâ€™s understandable why the Imposter Syndrome plagues so many talented leaders. At earlier levels of your career (supervisor and manager level), you actually are being paid to â€œknowâ€ what to do. Youâ€™re conditioned to have all of the answers. However, once you rise to the level of Vice President or C-level, you need different capabilities: the ability to build a team, to draw out answers from others, to collaborate on strategic solutions, and have confidence in your intuition to make smart decisions.
Believing in your ability to face the unknown puts you right where you need to be. The unknown doesnâ€™t have to be a scary place. In fact, itâ€™s the space where innovation happens. Now, more than ever, we are faced with the unknown. Our current economic climate dictates new ways of deploying our resources, innovative solutions to problems and leaders who arenâ€™t afraid to buck the status quo.
So the next time you experience the Imposter Syndrome, itâ€™s confirmation that youâ€™re in the right place: the space of a senior executive leader. Youâ€™re, in fact, on the edge of your own learning. Take a minute to celebrate that youâ€™re right where you should be. Then do what great leaders do â€“ innovate, problem-solve and lead your company to new heights.
Â©Copyright 2010, Valerie Williams. All rights reserved.