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There are times when we all feel “less than” in different facets of our lives. Turns out those feelings of insecurity and self-doubt have infused themselves into the collective consciousness of many professionals – time and time again.

You’re not alone

In a 2020 KPMG study of 750 executive women from major companies, the firm found that 75% experienced imposter syndrome in their careers. And not just once.

The study found that feelings of inadequacy appeared during pivotal moments in an existing role or during promotions or career changes. This makes sense since imposter syndrome has been defined as “the inability to believe your success is deserved as a result of your hard work and the fact you possess distinct skills, capabilities and experiences.”

A Harvard Business Review article states that imposter syndrome disproportionately affects high-achieving people, who find it difficult to accept their accomplishments. But, of course, your success doesn’t stem from luck.

Shine on

Those doubts don’t have to overshadow your ability to continue thriving.

Nearly half of the women from the KPMG survey never expected to be as successful as they are, causing self-doubt – and more than half have been scared they can’t live up to expectations.

81% of women believe they put more pressure on themselves not to fail – creating a much smaller margin for error than men in similar positions.

One way that almost three-quarters of surveyed women regained confidence was by seeking advice from a mentor when they doubted their abilities to take on new roles.

Having strong relationships with colleagues and leaders fosters a culture where women feel empowered to turn fears into growth opportunities. In fact, 47% believe having a supportive performance manager is the most important factor to combat imposter syndrome.

With teamwork and an inclusive culture, all professionals can feel respected and valued, collectively moving one step closer to promoting self-worth over self-doubt.

Next steps:

  • As a leader, emphasize the importance of culture and listen to differing opinions and viewpoints.
  • Lead by strengthening relationships with colleagues to help them feel valued, fairly rewarded and appreciated.
  • Pay attention to your special talents, abilities and gifts or enlist a trusted friend or colleague to help you better recognize them.
  • If needed, check with your employer to see if therapy is part of your benefits.