Managers and Imposter Syndrome: The 5 Profile Types

Before we get started, take this quick quiz:

  1. Do you feel like you tricked or manipulated your way into your current position?
  2. Are you anxious or worried about the day that your employees find out that you’re a fake or a fraud?
  3. Do you feel that despite other’s confidence in your abilities, you are more likely to fail at a project or task than you are to succeed?
  4. If you were offered an opportunity or promotion, would you question whether or not it’s “real” and not just a prank or mistake?
  5. Do you disparage your current accomplishments and ask yourself why you haven’t achieved more in your life by now?

If you answered yes to most or all of these, you might be dealing with a case of imposter syndrome. First described as the Imposter Phenomenon in the 70s by Drs. Suzanne Imes and Pauline Rose, the working definition is “the mental self-torment of someone who struggles to internalize their accomplishments, leading to feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt, or fraud.”

Research estimates that 70% of people experience imposter syndrome at some point in their lives, often impacting us at school, work, and social functions. New managers are particularly prone because the anxiety of taking up the mantle can quickly dampen optimism and excitement. 

Recognizing and Fight Back Against Imposter Syndrome

One of the easiest ways to address feelings of inadequacy is to acknowledge and interrupt them. To do so, you need to be aware of when you are experiencing those feelings.

This phenomenon has been divided into five categories, with each encompassing its own challenges and coping techniques. This week, we’ll look at two of those profiles and then follow up with the other three profiles next week!

The Perfectionist

If you tend to set impossibly high goals, literally unattainable ones, but still beat yourself up when you “fail” at reaching them, you most likely meet the profile for The Perfectionist. 

The Perfectionists are micromanagers who have difficulty delegating tasks out of fear that “things are only done correctly if they do them themselves.” Typically, they’re constantly facing burnout, discontent with their status, and anxiety over whether they deserve their position. 

To help combat these negative thoughts, Perfectionists can try diving into projects or situations before they’re ready, instead of looking for the “perfect time” to do something. They can also look for the positives that can come from flaws or mistakes in their work instead of internalizing them as a failure of ability. 

The Superman/Woman

Like Clark Kent, the Superman/woman profile encompasses those who feel out of place amongst their employees or peers. They may imagine that they are frauds who have somehow managed to fool everyone around them and take measures to cover up their perceived fakeness. 

Supermen/women are more likely to arrive early and stay late, working past the point of exhaustion to overcompensate. They often find the idea of relaxing more stressful than fun and will give up hobbies in the pursuit of productivity. Managers in this profile type will usually possess many pieces of evidence of their abilities, like degrees, accolades, or recommendations, but still doubt that they are deserving of their position. To make up for what they believe is a lack of ability, Supermen/women will try to prove their worth by going far above the call of duty. 

Because this profile type craves external validation, like praise from your colleagues for finishing projects on your own or thanks from your CEO for putting in extra hours, it’s essential to recognize that you are allowing others to have control over how you feel about yourself. While it’s nice to get a pat on the back, your ability to enjoy your life is going to serve you much better in the long run. Remember to praise yourself for things that don’t revolve around work, like taking the day off to relax. You can also consciously evaluate how much work you can take on before you hit the threshold of overwhelmed, then take a few steps back from that to avoid burnout. 

Don’t forget to check back next week to learn more about the last three Imposter Syndrome profile types: the Soloist, the Natural Genius, and the Expert!

Until then, reflect on your feelings about yourself and your work. You deserve to feel good about the things you have accomplished, and working with a professional business coach can help you get there. Contact Catalyst Group ECR to learn more about our services in executive coaching, employee management, and personal accountability. 

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *