The Imposter Syndrome

A few senior women leaders were invited by a leading celebrity personality for an informal catchup. The meeting was coordinated by someone who was known to both the celebrity and one of the women who had gone to attend the meeting. The celebrity asked the women leaders to introduce themselves. While each of them introduced themselves and their 20+ years of career almost in passing, one of them actually said – “I have been a boring banker all these years”. This was someone who had held extremely senior roles in some of the leading banks of the country including being the COO of one of the banks. The celebrity responded to this woman leader – “If it had been a man who had come to meet me, not only would he have taken much longer to introduce himself but put in extra effort for me to understand and realize the importance of each of the roles that he had performed, and spoken about the COO role with utmost pride”.

Why did the woman underplay her achievements? While most women are known to minimalise their achievements, one of the strong reasons for this is that they themselves doubt their accomplishments and have a persistent fear of being exposed as a fraud. This is termed as Imposter Syndrome. People with imposter syndrome remain convinced that they don’t deserve the success they have.

When Bhavana and I met up before the webinar that we were supposed to deliver to discuss the format and other details, we explored how we had suffered from the Imposter Syndrome in the earlier years. We realized that we continue to struggle with it even now, in fact even during the discussion that we were having.

We had a beautiful exploration of the 5 Archetypal energies using the Imposter Syndrome as the topic at the webinar organized by Kelp HR and Quinnergy. While I thought that I had probably gotten over the mindblocks that I had in my earlier years and hence, did not give in to self-doubt that easily now, the exploration with the 5 propensities or the archetypal energies made me realize that the self-doubt still remains. It urges me to give in and not accept any new or challenging assignment as I feel that I do not deserve that role. However, without my realizing it, I have learnt to step back and act in the situation from another propensity which allows for some risk taking.

I welcome you to watch the entire discussion with Bhavana Issar, Smita Kapoor, Vivek Dhikpathy and other participants of the webinar where the different propensities were explored –

The realisation of how one can harness and balance the qualities of each of the propensities to unleash one’s heroic potential is extremely powerful and will help every woman become “the best that she can be“.

Written by Neeraja Ganesh


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