Feeling Like a Fraud at Work?

ImpostorAccording to a study published by KPMG, 75% of female executives across industries have experienced impostor syndrome at some point in their careers - an anxiety-driven experience that, although well qualified, leaves an individual doubting their abilities and feeling like a fraud. 

In case you missed it, we caught up with Psychologist Dr. Lisa Orbe-Austin to understand and navigate this workplace mental health phenomena as it may play out in our own lives and offer support to those colleagues who may also be experiencing impostor syndrome.

Overcompensating and the Impact on Mental Health

Feeling like an impostor is exhausting. More often than not, those with feelings of inadequacy will overwork to prove their worthiness. On the outside, this person may come across as a perfectionist, but it is important to note that the one experiencing impostor syndrome will feel like they are fooling others at best. One important consequence of working in overdrive over an extended period of time is burnout.  

Insecurity is Drawn to Toxicity

The laws of attraction come into play when talking about impostor syndrome, particularly in the workplace. Those who are less confident in themselves can succumb to the toxic leaders or colleagues that surround them. On the other end of the spectrum, a leader who experiences impostor syndrome may overwork their direct reports out of insecurity in their performance as a manager.

The Financial Implications of Impostor Syndrome

The effects of impostor syndrome are wide reaching and can have serious implications on one's financial health and professional development if not dealt with early on. Those who experience impostor syndrome are: 

  • Less likely to advocate for themselves
  • Less likely to ask for promotions or negotiate 
  • More likely to be underpaid, under-titled and undervalued
  • More likely to stay at a company often at the detriment to career growth

It is important to note that impostor syndrome typically doesn’t go away on its own and symptoms can often worsen with career advancement. 

If You Are Experiencing Impostor Syndrome

  • Challenge automatic negative thoughts and create a positive take
  • Identify if there is actually objective data to validate that negative thoughts
  • Replace statements like “I’m a failure” with “Mistakes are human, how can I learn from this?” 
  • Take in and believe that your accomplishments are earned by you, not because of luck or by accident 
  • Recognize when you are being triggered into the impostor syndrome cycle. The trigger causes performance anxiety, which then leads to overworking/over-functioning and burnout, or on the other side, procrastination/avoidance and self-sabotage.

“When you can work as hard for yourself as you do for others you will become unstoppable!” 

- Dr. Lisa Orbe-Austin

For more from Psychologist and Executive Coach, Dr. Lisa Orbe-Austin, catch the session on-demand. 


Read: Own Your Greatness: Overcome Impostor Syndrome, Beat Self-Doubt, and Succeed in Life

Watch TedX Talk: The Imposter Syndrome Paradox