How many times in your life have you wanted to achieve something significant but were stopped by an inner voice?
How many times in your leadership have you wanted to move to the next level but heard something inside saying, “No, you’re not ready”?
These voice—the one that tells you you’re not good enough, smart enough, capable enough, worthy enough, or ready for the next step—is the voice of the imposter within you. The imposter wants to hold you back and prevent you from doing the things you dream about. It’s sabotaging you in the guise of protecting you.
The imposter’s voice is the voice of fear—fear of vulnerability, fear of shame—and it will work to keep you from trying new things or taking bold action. Here are five ways the imposter can derail your leadership:
The imposter compares. Most of us spend too much time looking over our shoulder to see how successful, how accomplished, how smart someone else is and how we measure up. There will always be someone who appears to be smarter, better, faster, wiser, leaner than you are. It can be exhausting trying to keep up with everyone, and comparing yourself to others leads to nothing but frustration. Measure your accomplishments within yourself. Don’t look at others but ask yourself daily what you can do better tomorrow.
The imposter wants to please everyone. When you feel insufficient it’s a short leap to wanting to always please everyone, even though you know it’s impossible. Trying to please all is a no-win situation; leadership is not about pleasing people but empowering them—and that means sometimes pushing them to the edge of their discomfort zone. If you’re trying to please everyone you are doing harm to your leadership.
The imposter is an overachiever. When your to-do list that is longer than you can manage, you need to step back. Delegate to the gifted and talented people you’ve surrounded yourself with. When you do, you help keep your own workload manageable and you empower others to lead and grow.
The imposter is a perfectionist. There are few things more unhealthy than an either-or system in which you’re either perfect or a failure. Perfection isn’t real, and the sooner a leader knows that the less they will feel like an imposter. Don’t reach for perfection but concentrate doing your best to the best of your ability in a way that shows people that what you do you take pride in. Remember that your actions send a message to those you lead.
The imposter feels like a fraud. The saying “fake it till you make it” is certainly popular. But it can be a damaging message. Pretending to be something else while you’re trying to figure it out isn’t authentic or genuine. Don’t fight the imposter by pretending that you deserve your success—learn to believe it, and then let the rest fall into place.
Lead from within. The imposter within you will try to sabotage you and play havoc with who you are and what you can accomplish. The only effective way to combat it is to take full charge of your capabilities and competence and lead with confidence, because greatness lies within you.
Check out my new book:
The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness
After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.
Additional Reading you might enjoy:
- The Test Every Great Leader Must Pass
- 12 of The Most Common Lies Leaders Tell Themselves
- Leadership: Claim Your Calling
- The One Quality Every Leader Needs To Succeed
- To Trust Means To Be Careless
Photo Credit: Getty Images
Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness is being released by Portfolio May 2017.