Written by Carly Lukacs, SA Woman & Anna Beaumont, Beaumont Solutions

Get together at any SA Woman event and the topic of Imposter Syndrome comes up. It gets thrown around when we are nervous about taking the leap into new opportunities, and when we justify why we didn’t “do the thing”. It seems to disproportionately affect women and more often than not, women who are absolutely doing epic and incredible things.

When you look at a definition for Imposter Syndrome, it is defined as “a psychological condition that is characterized by persistent doubt concerning one’s abilities or accomplishments accompanied by the fear of being exposed as a fraud despite evidence of one’s ongoing success.”

That is a heavy assumption to hold about yourself and doesn’t seem to be easily quelled with positive affirmations.

So, why do we feel Imposter Syndrome and WHY is it so prevalent amongst women (unnecessarily).

In a think piece titled “Stop Telling Women They Have Imposter Syndrome”, the author writes, “Imposter syndrome took a fairly universal feeling of discomfort, second-guessing, and mild anxiety in the workplace and pathologized it, especially for women. As white men progress, their feelings of doubt usually abate as their work and intelligence are validated over time. They’re able to find role models who are like them, and rarely (if ever) do others question their competence, contributions, or leadership style.”

Ah-ha, so Imposter Syndrome could be the product of systemic biases and prejudices then?

For a long time at SA Woman, we have discussed the power that women have as leaders – especially when they are able to truly lead and work ‘like women’. When you have risen up through the corporate or business world in the shadows of the male leaders that came before you, there are countless opportunities to feel self-doubt, exclusion and an added pressure to prove your worth. It is no wonder this creates an environment where women second guess their abilities.

We are mostly familiar with the concept of a glass ceiling – a way in which women are held back from advancing into leadership positions or C-Suite roles. However, increasingly more common are discussions about the glass cliff (where a female is promoted to senior leadership just as a company is set to collapse or experience disastrous public opinion) and the glass wall (where you are trying to advance or expand at the same rate as your male counterparts, but can’t seem to access the same privileges, opportunities, connections and acknowledgements you see them receiving).

Fear of all this glass is a fair-enough reason to second-guess what you are achieving!

What can we do about Imposter Syndrome?

If it was as easy as thinking positive thoughts, imposter syndrome wouldn’t exist.

So what can we REALLY do to move past this feeling of inadequacy and stand strongly in our self-confidence and self-worth?

  1. Surround yourself with female leaders
    If you do not have a female leader in your organisation, find a networking or industry body where you can surround yourself with strong and confident female leaders. The power of seeing women succeed, cannot be understated! Connect on LinkedIn and build genuine relationships with the women in your area of expertise. You don’t even need to network with women in the same field as you to reap the benefits of strong women connecting and sharing experiences and ideas.
  2. Spreadsheet your doubts
    Literally. It is not as easy to get emotionally caught up in a spreadsheet, as it is to get caught up when everything is still in your head! So get the doubts out of your head and into a spreadsheet where you can make notes on the likelihood that events will transpire, see your doubts listed next to other ones, place them in order of most to least relevant and decide what you can do for each doubt to feel a sense of control. Take this overwhelming feeling that you are not enough and put into words why, actually, you are more than enough.
  3. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes
    When a feeling of imposter syndrome rears it’s head, take a moment to think of the same feeling in the following three people:
    – A senior leader you admire or look up to (this doesn’t have to be within your organisation!)
    – A friend or family member who comes to you for advice
    – A younger version of yourself
    What would these three people think of the situation? Would they undertake additional study to feel more confident? Would they put themselves out there and see what happened? Would they be able to see your successes and achievements for the incredible, varied journey that they are?

SA Woman Member, Anna Beaumont from Beaumont Solutions shared this example with us of a key team member who almost didn’t work for Beaumont Solutions due to her own Imposter Syndrome.

When growing our business and wondering who to employ next, I had a list of women as long as my arm… our first ‘proper’ recruit was Jen. 

Those of you that know her know that she is an absolute gun: Smart, kind, loyal – and too humble for her own good (a recognised workplace trait for many women). 

Like many of the SA population got her first job in ‘fast food’, where she built her career and rose through the ranks before choosing to leave the industry and try something new.  Hospitality industry experience means she is highly skilled in customer service and, as the majority of our client’s workplaces are male-dominated, she’s tough, self-assured and well-equipped to handle tough situations with a smile – we love and appreciate her experience.  She has worked in retail, warehousing, aged care, agriculture and more… she is an absolute unicorn.

Why am I sharing this with you? 
  1. She doesn’t get enough credit for what she does (outside of me telling her she is fabulous.) AND 
  2. She wasn’t going to come work for us.

Like all of us women at one point or another, she had imposter syndrome: thinking, am I going to be enough, am I going to succeed – but instead, we talked and talked and talked….and talked, and re-framed. 

If we are not enough – we have capacity to learn and grow. 

If we fail – we have capacity to learn and grow!

She believed in our commitment and we believed in her potential.  She took on the challenge, and we invested in her development with training. Time and time again, she absolutely nails it on every engagement. 

This month, we celebrate that she has been with us now for 12 months, a huge milestone, one that has changed all of our lives as we have grown our family business.  We’re pleased she chose us for her next career.

My point: 

Don’t talk yourself out of it.  

Taking a leap into a new business, or a new job can make you anxious, overwhelmed, even scared – just remember, you wouldn’t have the dream if it wasn’t meant for you.  If you’re an employee – you wouldn’t have been offered the job unless they truly believed you could do it. 

“Take a leap of faith. You will either land somewhere new or learn to fly.” Anon.”

Get in touch with Anna

Anna is a senior health and safety professional and accredited auditor, with experience in various industries including automotive, energy, insurance, government and not-for-profit organisations.

Her passion is guiding business owners through their WHS challenges by helping them understand their responsibilities, and then providing them with everything they need to ensure that their approach is effective.

She believes strongly that complex programs do not stick around, and it is this philosophy that underpins Beaumont Solutions. By keeping recommendations simple and understandable, business owners are empowered to manage, monitor and resolve any issues with the minimum of effort, whilst continuously improving to avoid incidents and injuries.

Most of all, Anna prides herself on being someone people can trust to align with their values and attitudes to get the job done.

Website: www.beaumont-solutions.com.au
Facebook: Beaumont Solutions
Instagram: @beaumontsolutions
LinkedIn: Anna Beaumont

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