3 Ways to Challenge Imposter Syndrome and Feel Confident

Nearly 70% of people experience Impostor Syndrome. And it is particularly common among women and people from minority populations – so how can we overcome it?

Group of People Standing Indoors

What is imposter syndrome?

“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts”
Bertrand Russell – Philosopher

The term was defined by clinical psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes in 1978, when they found that despite having adequate external evidence of accomplishments, people with imposter syndrome remained convinced that they didn’t deserve the success that they had. They felt like an imposter by not being qualified and/or capable of performing efficiently in that role.

Building up self-confidence and self-esteem can help, however the source of feeling like an imposter could come more from the way we are conditioned to think about how things are supposed to be.

If you feel that you don’t “look like” the person who should do that role, you are more likely to feel like an imposter. It is a real feeling based on shared perceptions that we have about what something or someone is “supposed” to look like – it can come from our early conditioning, our assumptions and our biases.

Watch this TED talk to learn more about Imposter Syndrome:


3 Ways to Challenge Imposter Syndrome

Know how you respond to stress

People can respond to the anxiety of imposter syndrome in one of two ways: either through striving for perfectionism by overworking; or by taking avoiding action to keep themselves safe, rarely speaking up or seeking out new challenges.

Get a sense of how you respond to stress. Are you an over-worker or an avoider? If you over-work, learn to be more assertive and state what your needs are rather than saying yes to everything. If you are an avoider and you want to start voicing your opinion more, make a promise to yourself to speak up in the first 15 minutes of a meeting so that you short-circuit your natural tendency to hold back.

At STL we run several training sessions that can help with these skills, including Building Confidence and Assertiveness, Stress Management and Presentation Skills.

Put your emotions into words
Learning to cope with difficult emotions like self-doubt will help you increase your mental strength. Studies show that people who ignore negative emotions experience more distress and can engage in destructive behaviours.

Identifying and labelling feelings will combat the stressful feelings that arise with impostor syndrome. Expand your emotional vocabulary so that you can better deal with anxiety and worry when it arises. Simply labelling your inner experience is a powerful way to keep insecurity from ruling you.

Listen to your inner dialogue & change it!
We can be our own worst critic, putting ourselves down, not acknowledging our accomplishments and criticising what we are capable of doing.

For one week, try writing down your thoughts and noting your inner dialogue. How are you judging yourself? Are you putting yourself down internally?

Try to start using positive words and positive-yet-realistic phrases. It’s not easy to admit out loud that you feel insecure, so begin by changing the words, and the mental approach will follow.

Don’t forget that many smart, successful and competent people feel like imposters in their jobs. The most limiting part of imposter syndrome is that it can curtail our courage to go after new opportunities, explore new interests or put ourselves forward for new exciting opportunities.

Try implementing the 3 tips above to start you on the path to conquering imposter syndrome and reaching your full potential.

The Secret to Creating a High Performing Team

The Secret to High Performing Teams: Do I have a High Performing Team?

The aim of any manager should be to create an effective team, also known as an HPT (High Performing Team). After all, the performance of a team reflects upon whom? Technically, everyone, but the manager or leader of the team in particular! So there are vested interests all round.

The Secret to High Performing Teams
The Secret to High Performing Teams

If you have succeeded in turning your team into a high performing one, well done you, but there are 2 key questions to consider: Firstly, how did you get there?

To answer this, please refer to Tuckman’s Theory of Team Development. Secondly, you think you’ve managed to create one, but how do you know for certain that you have? Has your team earned the HPT title?

To help you with this, let’s identify the key characteristics of a High Performing Team:

All team members are clear about the shared goals, which are sold as challenging but achievable. The team is highly productive; these goals are achieved and often exceeded.

Roles are defined

Each team member knows where they fit into the team and what they bring to it.

Strengths & weaknesses

Team members are aware of these. They learn from experiences and support each other, maximising strengths and minimising or eradicating weaknesses.


There is a relaxed climate for communication – people are direct, open and honest with each other. Team members share feedback, both positive and constructive, and conflicts can be resolved internally. Or, even better, avoided altogether!


There is a high level of interdependence amongst the team members. They work on important tasks together and teamwork and commitment are vital for achieving results.


Members know they can influence the results of the whole team. They know they are part of a team that is made up of more than the sum of the individuals.


People develop mutual trust with each other. They believe that others have skills and capabilities which contribute to the team effort. They enjoy working together, which helps to build the team spirit. We’re in this together and we can do it!


The manager has good people skills and is committed to developing a good team atmosphere (a nice place to work?). He/she acts as a ‘cheerleader’ for the team. Also, team members are encouraged to step up and demonstrate leadership when their skills and experiences are relevant to the needs of the team.

Creativity & innovation

Team members are encouraged to come up with new ideas, which are followed up and shared with the rest of the team. These ideas also assist the team’s internal mechanisms for decision making and problem-solving.


Team members are prepared to take risks within established parameters. They feel able to develop their skills and abilities in a safe environment.


What have we learnt? The above list is not exhaustive, but if you can recognise these key characteristics within your own team, then well done. You may already have a high performing team, or are at least well on the way to creating one. If any of the above qualities are clearly lacking from your team, then this represents a development area for you and the team.

Once a high performing team has been created, some managers like to sit back and put their feet up. Understandable, but remember to keep an eye on things.

Creating an HPT is one thing, but maintaining that position can be just as challenging, if not more so. Good luck!