The importance of changing the concept of self as an aspiring team leader
As an aspiring team leader, you might have asked yourself those questions:
- What are people going to think?
- Will I be up to the challenge?
- When we try to get promoted, or even plan to do something for the first time, it can be daunting and intimidating.
- What if I fail?
- What if I make a fool out of myself?
So, as you have guessed, the impostor syndrome is a self-belief of not being good enough. That’s it.
Why have I decided to talk about it? While I was coaching aspiring team leaders, this uneasy feeling popped up nearly every single time—, especially among women.
I was already a seasoned team leader, so I had to remind myself of the way I felt when I got a job in analytics, and then it all resurfaced: the uneasiness, the inadequacy, the embarrassment, the fear of being exposed, the shame of not being as good as someone else.
If this resonates with you at some level, but you still want to know if you suffer from the impostor syndrome, let’s look at the additional questions below:
- Is fear holding you back from applying to a team leader position?
- Are you a new team leader and feel like a fraud?
- Are you afraid to share your dream of becoming a team leader to your colleagues, your boss, or your family, for fear of being ridiculed?
- Have you already evaluated all the competencies needed to be in management and have concluded that you don’t stand a chance?
- Are you trying to get noticed, only to feel that your work is overshadowed by someone else who appears to be more confident?
- Are you mostly in the back seat at meetings?
- Do you find it difficult to savor your achievements?
- Do you feel you would be bragging if you were feeling proud of your achievements?
If you nodded at any of my questions, you probably suffer from the impostor syndrome.
The excellent news is that it’s not a fatality!
Once you consciously acknowledge (to yourself) that you are negatively impacted by this belief system, it’s time to make a few choices in your life.
This can be achieved with:
- A proper understanding of what it entails—if this is really a syndrome and why it is important to correctly name it
- Acknowledging where it comes from
- Identifying the consequences of keeping that belief
- The greatness in feeling like a fraud
- Implementing the 5 hacks I’m going to give you if fear is holding you back from applying
As a bonus, I will give you 2 more hacks if you’re already in the job.
A proper understanding of what it entails—is this really a syndrome and why it is important to correctly name it?
A syndrome is typically used in general medicine or in psychiatry and psychopathology. This is not a medical condition, so, could it be related to psychiatry or psychopathology? Both refer to a mental dysfunction otherwise known as a mental disorder. In other words, no.
Would you agree that thinking of ourselves as a fraud comes from … a thought?
If the origin of that uneasiness is rooted in our subconscious mind, in our thoughts as a belief, can we assume it is not medically rooted and that it is not a mental dysfunction?
I believe the distinction is important. If we put a false name on our thoughts and feelings and believe that, on top of our inadequacy, we have some sort of disease, then we believe we will need a cure to eliminate the pathogens. However, this set of thoughts and feelings cannot be treated by antibiotics or antivirals.
As such, we don’t need any external help to feel better. We need to identify our thoughts and feelings so that we can make a conscious effort to change them and set the intention to counteract our reaction so that we reach our objective.
I researched the topic as I wanted to give you a scientific approach, and I came upon Dr. Valerie Young, who is an expert in that so-called syndrome. I like her definition, which, incidentally, corroborates with mine.
In other words, sufferers of “feeling like a fraud,” as we can call them, don’t necessarily match success with themselves. They tend to dissociate success from themselves as if success could be attributed to luck rather than their own accomplishments.
“One thing all imposters share is a distorted unrealistic unsustainable definition of competence.” She adds, “People have a very difficult time owning their achievements.”
Dr Valerie Young
If you talk to a person whose life is being slightly impacted by low self-belief and its associated guilt and shame, chances are that they won’t take action to change their lives. Change requires a certain degree of healthy self-belief because change comes because of uncertainty.
With a healthy degree of self-belief, this is not a problem, as you can rely on your ability to solve any obstacle and move forward towards your goal. But, for someone who has low self-esteem and doesn’t believe they are capable of achieving big things, this would constitute too much of a mountain to climb, and they rarely even try.
When a person is deeply impacted by that belief, and fear holds them back from fulfilling their dreams, they will be willing to do whatever it takes to overcome that feeling.
I have seen people succeeding without necessarily feeling worthy of their accomplishments. But, at some point, they feel the need to go higher without feeling under pressure, without feeling those strong low emotions.
If this is you, this article is going to hit home. This is my intention for you, as you deserve to dream big and achieve big.
As long as you have imagined or dreamed of becoming a team leader, you can get there, and you do have what it takes.
You’ll see later why I know it!
Acknowledging where it comes from
Thoughts are rooted in the environment we grew up in. Our environment is comprised of our parents, careers, siblings, educators, friends, and religion (if any). It is a collective way of thinking and of doing things that every child on this planet naturally mirrors from infancy.
The same child born in a different city, on a different continent, from the same parents, will undeniably pick up beliefs of the environment they grow up in.
In other words, our thoughts, unless revisited, do not belong to us, but comply with our community. When they serve us well, there is no reason to revisit them.
However, when our life and ambitions are impacted, I think it’s worth looking into it.
Does this mean our upbringing is to blame? No, because they probably didn’t know any better. “If you don’t know better, you can’t do better. Now that you know better, you can do better.”
Maya Angelou’s mother
What it means is that as soon as you take responsibility to overcome those thoughts, you don’t have to keep the stigmata any longer. Look at my words. I didn’t write that it is your fault, only that it is your responsibility. There’s a huge difference. It is your responsibility simply because you are the one in charge of your thoughts.
You have full control over them—not your careers, not your siblings, not your boss—only you. Your dreams are yours; your thoughts are yours. You didn’t create them, but you can un-create them. Isn’t that great?
You can start the process once you understand that self-belief is actually an imposed belief until you revisit it.
So, why didn’t you change your thoughts before? Because you couldn’t! You didn’t know where to look or why you felt like this.
Doesn’t it feel natural to feel like a fraud? If I had asked you, “How long have you thought this way?” I’m quite sure you would have said, “I’ve always thought this way.”
Every scenario is possible: maybe you weren’t encouraged when you had good grades at school, maybe your dreams or a dream job were not encouraged, maybe you had siblings who were more encouraged to fulfill their dreams, or maybe you failed at something and were laughed at by other children.
You see, there are so many possible reasons that it would be time-consuming to try to find the root cause of your personal current trail of thoughts.
Let me share my story with you. In a few words, I didn’t know all I know now, yet I overcame my own inability to appreciate and own my achievements. It didn’t take me years of work on myself to lead a better life. Thank goodness because I didn’t want to put my life on pause.
I instinctively followed the process I am explaining in points 4 and 5. This is what I would encourage you to do—go straight to the “feeling better and deserving” new point of attraction and focus solely on that.
Identifying the consequences of keeping that inadequacy belief
I find that it is quite an easy road to get to as well. I used to be a perfectionist and evaluated all the data I didn’t know about, instead of feeling proud of my progress.
This is how I felt before I got promoted to an analytical role. I was panic-stricken. I spent the whole summer reading books and trying to implement strategies on my own, as I knew I had so much to learn. I thought I had been given the job because I interviewed well, not because of my competencies. The first day was a nightmare. I couldn’t sleep for a week, and I looked like hell.
Many women sacrifice their potential and their talent because they feel or believe they are not good enough.
You will always find someone who knows more. This is called experience.
But, instead of successfully leading a team, you poisoned your beautiful mind with contradictory and false thoughts that you were not the right candidate.
Worse, your thoughts led to a set of feelings that, in some cases, consumed you:
- Shame of not feeling courageous enough to apply
- Shame again to feel stuck in a dream while others were not that bothered about the outcome. They were triers. If they succeeded, fine; if they didn’t, oh well, nobody died.
- Frustration since you know deep down you have potential that only needs to find a voice
- Guilt if you had been given responsibilities, and you thought someone else would do a better job
The issue I see here is that if you remain in that state of mind for too long, it can paralyze you from going further in more areas than a promotion.
The bottom line is that your potential can remain unexplored or, worse, others could claim your successes and move up the ladder, while you still think you don’t deserve to take on more responsibilities. To me, this is clearly a waste of time—your precious time.
When I talked to aspiring team leaders, they confided in me and said that they felt guilty. The most interesting thing was that some of them were not sure why they felt that way.
- “I don’t have what it takes.”
- “Because I haven’t studied people management.”
- “Me neither. But I’m your team leader.”
- “Oh yes, but you’re confident.”
- “I wasn’t particularly confident when I started, and I was an introvert.”
- “Er ….”
- “My point exactly.”
The greatness in feeling like a fraud
Before we get to the fun hacks, I would like you to free yourself from any guilt and know that if you’re daydreaming of becoming a team leader, you are most likely a perfectionist, a visionary. You are most likely empathetic and are good at listening to others.
Why do I know that? Because you would be surprised at the number of people who didn’t ask themselves if they had what it took to be in management. They applied, feeling confident in their abilities, only to fail at the interview, because they hadn’t fully grasped what a management role entails, the skills you need to master, and the real empathy you need to feel for people to voice their true self and be relatable.
Their quest was more personal.
There was nothing wrong with that, and I’m not judging their positioning. I’m only saying that one hundred percent of the wonderful women who thought they were not good enough to be promoted in management were, in fact, very well positioned and had great potential that just needed exploring more. That’s all.
The truth is, when you remain a perfectionist, you plant obstacles on your path. Sure, as I mentioned, you can still succeed despite your thinking patterns, but it will take longer, and you will never be satisfied because you will always perceive something you could have done better. And that thought alone will keep you trapped.
When you make the choice to leave the thought of being a fraud behind, you could feel resistance at first. This is normal. Without realizing it, you could feel you are betraying that thought. Do you know why? It’s because your thought patterns have been rooted since infancy. You’ve been loyal to those thoughts, because it was a way to be accepted in a community, in a group of people.
When we are children, the last thing we want is to be excluded or rejected by thinking or acting differently. We try to please adults and don’t necessarily rebel even when we don’t feel okay.
So, breaking free from a thought pattern coming from infancy can be uncomfortable at first, as you could feel on a subconscious level that you’re betraying your upbringing.
We’ve all been there when we made the choice to change our thoughts.
The thing you need to realize is that it is your life. Your thoughts are yours, and you will be the one in the leadership role.
Implementing the 5 hacks I’m going to give you if fear is holding you back from applying:
List your past achievements, big or small and feel proud.
Objective: this is to counteract the shame you feel when you assume that you are not as good as someone else is. For this exercise, you can ask someone you trust, someone who’s going to encourage you. As you don’t trust yourself completely at this stage, you need to find support from a friendly yet realistic person. In that way, you’ll know that all you hear is true.
Tip: Refer to that list as many times as you need (the friend can also help with hack #3).
Write the worst that could happen if you don’t get the job.
Objective: this is for you to realize that it’s not a matter of life or death. The objective here is to minimize the “dragon” you want to tame. It also shows you that failure is not the terrible thing you think it is. Artists, scientists, and the greatest minds of this world failed many times before succeeding! Some have also doubted their abilities and have suffered from that condition! Does it make them less intelligent than those who never failed but haven’t reached such heights? The point is that nobody cares. All we know is what they have done for the world, and we’re grateful.
Tip: Every time you catch yourself having negative inner conversations, remind yourself of this as if it was a mantra. It worked on me!
Focus on a quality you have (or more!)
Before you start rolling your eyes, yes, you have one! 😉
Objective: This is for you to be self-aware and start accepting the wonderful woman you truly are. Here’s a list of a few qualities that are important when you want to become a team leader or are already in leadership: integrity, communication skills, listening skills, being trustworthy, understanding the big picture, having a vision, courage, focus, empathy, and empowering your teams. There are more, but, as you can see, you likely have more than one leadership quality already!
Tip: If you find it difficult to think of something, you can ask a reliable friend. Make a conscious effort to refer to it mentally when you feel uncomfortable.
Update your CV to see if you have omitted a few achievements.
Objective: This is to signal to your brain that you’re ready to take action towards your goal and to take your dream to the next level. Do not underestimate the power and greatness of your beautiful mind. Don’t fear its power; befriend it!
Tip: Be mindful how to display your accomplishments: don’t give too many details, stick to percentages and Awards’ names, what you’ve been praised for.
Expand on your current competencies.
Objective: This will raise your confidence and will act as a powerful signal that you are ready to take on more responsibilities. It’s never too early to learn new things!
Tip: if your forte is on people management skills and more precisely soft skills (communication skills and so forth), it could be useful to you to start looking at what Excel can offer. When you get the job, knowing the basics in analytics will help you immensely, especially when it comes to understanding reports or forecasting.
If you are still doubtful and would like to have a free guide on where you can start your journey or need to think about the option of entering management, I have prepared a Quick Guide for you. All you have to do is register below and you’ll get your Essential Guide!
Bonus Hacks if you’re a new team leader:
Write down new processes
Objective: This is to make you feel self-sufficient and autonomous in your role, because you probably won’t change overnight. If you are already a team leader and are still struggling to feel you deserve to be where you are, chances are that you won’t run to a mentor to ask for help. You’d rather keep quiet behind your computer hoping no one will catch you.
Keep track of every progress you make
instead of looking for immediate results. You will have to manage a project at some stage. Every project requires milestones to achieve until you reach the desired outcome. The objective of this hack is for you to acknowledge that a result is made of a succession of small accomplishments. Consider your goal of leaving the awful feeling of being a fraud behind for good as if it was a project. That way, you will reconsider how important every progress actually is. I want you to feel proud of who you are becoming in the process.
ConclusionBottom line, even if you are currently under the “spell” of feeling like a fraud, it means you have the potential to become a great team leader.
Now, the question is, what hack(s) are you going to use to help you become a better version of yourself without staying trapped in your distorted perception of your ability to accomplish greatness?
Now What?The simple fact that you’ve read this means that you can overcome this condition. Unleash your true potential now!
Click the link if you’d like full guidance on how to unleash your true potential and become the next team leader!