Imposter Syndrome at Work: What is it and how can you overcome it?

imposter syndrome at work

Have you ever felt like you don’t deserve your success or that you’re just pretending to be competent at your job? Do you fear being exposed as a fraud despite evidence to the contrary? These feelings and thoughts are common symptoms of Imposter Syndrome, a psychological phenomenon that affects many high achieving individuals, particularly women.

What is Imposter Syndrome at Work?

imposter syndrome at work

Imposter Syndrome is a psychological phenomenon characterized by feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy despite evidence of one’s capabilities and achievements. It is often accompanied by fear of being exposed as fraud, leading many people to believe that they are not as competent as they appear to be. Imposter Syndrome can negatively impact work performance, employee engagement, and overall well-being.

Imposter Syndrome is not an official diagnosis, but rather a psychological phenomenon that has been widely researched and recognized. Initial research on Imposter Syndrome focused on high-achieving women, but it has since been found to affect people of all genders and backgrounds. Many successful people have experienced Imposter Syndrome at some point in their lives, but they have learned to combat it and not let it hold them back.

Imposter Syndrome shows up in many forms in the workplace. It can manifest itself when starting a new job, taking on a big project, or facing new challenges. It can also hit full force after receiving positive feedback or praise. While it’s common to experience feelings of self-doubt and imposter syndrome, it’s important to address them and not let them negatively impact your work and life.

Factors of Imposter Syndrome at Work

External factors such as organizational culture, societal expectations, and past experiences can contribute to Imposter Syndrome. However, internal factors such as personality traits and upbringing also play a significant role. Imposter Syndrome is a psychological phenomenon that uniquely impacts individuals, and it’s important to recognize and address it on an individual level.

How Can You Combat Imposter Syndrome at Work

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Overcoming Imposter Syndrome can be a challenging yet rewarding process. So, how to address Imposter Syndrome and move past it?

The following are research-backed strategies that can help you overcome and combat Impostor Syndrome and create a better sense of self-worth and self-confidence.

Acceptance and self-awareness

Recognize that Imposter Syndrome is a psychological phenomenon that affects many capable people. Acknowledge your feelings of self-doubt and accept them as a normal part of the process. Practice self-awareness and mindfulness to identify negative thoughts and feelings as they arise.

Creating psychological safety

Encourage open discussions and create a culture where people feel comfortable speaking up about their experiences with Imposter Syndrome. Share your own experiences with coworkers and encourage them to do the same.

Positive self-talk and self-affirming statements

Replace negative thoughts and feelings with self-affirming statements. Celebrate your successes and focus on your strengths rather than your perceived weaknesses.

Building a support system

Surround yourself with supportive coworkers, friends, and family who can offer positive feedback and encouragement. Seek out a career coach or mentor who can help you navigate your career and offer guidance and support.

Taking risks

Step outside of your comfort zone and take calculated risks. Remember that failure is a natural part of the process and that it can lead to growth and development.


Practice self-compassion and treat yourself with kindness and understanding. Remember that you are not alone in your experience of Imposter Syndrome and that it’s okay to ask for help.

Experiencing Imposter Syndrome can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to hold you back. By taking the appropriate measures and addressing your feelings of self-doubt, you can overcome Imposter Syndrome and reach new heights in your career. With the proper support system and a growth mindset, you can turn your experience with Imposter Syndrome into a positive force for achieving success.

Conclusion: Imposter Syndrome at Work

In conclusion, Imposter Syndrome is a common symptom experienced by many high achievers in the workplace. It’s a psychological phenomenon that can negatively impact work performance, employee engagement, and overall well-being. However, there are effective ways to combat Imposter Syndrome and create a more positive work environment.

It’s important to recognize the signs of Imposter Syndrome and address them in a healthy and proactive way. Imposter Syndrome can be a barrier to success, but it’s possible to overcome it and thrive in your career.

For example, successful women in particular have been found to experience Imposter Syndrome at high rates. This can be attributed to societal expectations and gender stereotypes that have been ingrained in our culture. However, women have also been found to be highly resilient and capable of modeling effective stress management.

One of the keys to addressing Imposter Syndrome is creating a culture of psychological safety in the workplace. This means creating an environment where people feel comfortable speaking up about their experiences with Imposter Syndrome and mental health in general. By doing so, you can foster an atmosphere of trust and support that can have a positive impact on everyone’s well-being.

It’s also important to remember that Imposter Syndrome is not a reflection of your actual abilities or accomplishments. Rather, it’s a psychological phenomenon that affects many high achievers. By focusing on your strengths, celebrating your successes, and seeking out support from coworkers and mentors, you can combat Imposter Syndrome and create a more positive and fulfilling work experience.

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