Thoughts on Leadership: Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

Becoming a leader is not easy for some people. The position often comes with self doubt and lingering uncertainty, which can be daunting. However, most people who get promoted or move into positions of management are given opportunities because they are a good fit for the position. Still, if you feel like you are overwhelmed by Imposter Syndrome, the sense that your position is undeserved, follow these steps to take back your confidence and feel great about the position you’re in.

Step 1: Identify Your Strengths

When you’re feeling down about your abilities, it can be hard to focus on any positives. You may need help from a thoughtful manager, a trusted mentor or friend to remind you of your capabilities. Once you know, keep a handy reminder by writing these skills down in a list that you can easily reference. Then, anytime you feel that creeping uneasiness that you are not succeeding, look at the list and remind yourself of why you are where you are.

Step 2: Capitalize on Your Talents

Just knowing what skills you have is not enough; you must now find ways to use your skills to your advantage. For example, someone who is great at writing emails may find that a weekly email update is more beneficial for the team than a vocal presentation. In this example, you could still ask the team to gather afterward to discuss any agenda items that need input, so you won’t miss out entirely on interaction and debate. This is only one example, but you can capitalize on your talents in many ways.

Step 3: Understand Your Weaknesses

After some time of using your strengths to your advantage, it is time to face up to something you may fear: your weaknesses. Fear of failure is a common human trait, so there is no need to be embarrassed about confronting your fears. Instead, keep in mind the positive impact this can have on you. By recognizing your flaws, you take power away from Imposter Syndrome. You are telling yourself that you are just a person who will make mistakes. By doing this, you can take some of the pressure of being perfect off of yourself.

Step 4: Plan Out Growth

Of course, it’s not great to ignore your weaknesses as they are. You should always strive to improve, even if it is slowly. How you do that is dependent upon your role and your weaknesses, but luckily, your mentor or boss can help you brainstorm methods that will be effective. Make sure not to pile on the new habits, and instead, try introducing new techniques one at a time. Only move to the next when you’ve mastered the current one. It may take you a month to get used to something, or it may take you several. Either way, rest assured knowing you are aware of your shortcomings, but you are doing the best you can to improve yourself.

Once you’ve done all of these steps, you will see that Imposter Syndrome just doesn’t have the hold it used to. Every leader has times where they feel inadequate, but you can go through most of your days with confidence if you follow this system. Any time you feel as though you do not belong where you are, come back to these four steps and rest assured that you are good enough.

Experienced real estate consultant, scholar and visionary, Emery Matthews founded and serves as the principal of Detroit-based Real Estate Interests, LLC. Matthews has been a major player in the Detroit real estate landscape for more than a decade, regularly managing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of projects and investments. Real Estate Interests, LLC provides specialized consulting services designed to help guide companies through major changes and complex deals, managing assets and property, and advising decision makers. Matthews and his team are currently managing projects in Detroit and across the U.S. in the automotive, manufacturing and education spaces, while increasing their foothold in the rapidly growing Sub-Saharan African nations of South Africa, Ghana and Nigeria. A Detroit native, Matthews earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and simultaneously earned a Juris Doctorate and Master’s of Business Administration degree from Harvard University. As a lifelong learner with a global vision, Matthews is fluent in German and currently working to improve his Chinese.