Are you an Imposter? How to identify, deal with and overcome Imposter Syndrome

Author Sarah Ingwersen
November 1, 2021

What is Imposter Syndrome?

Imposter Syndrome was first recognised by psychologists in the 1970s who were studying high achieving women and their feelings of inadequacy or anxiety. It is now widely recognised as disproportionately affecting people at all stages of their career – both women and men – regardless of their background, status or title. Michelle Obama and Sheryl Sandberg have both revealed that they suffer from Imposter Syndrome so if you are reading this, you are in good company!

A person with imposter syndrome often feels like they are a fraud or a fake and uses certain behaviours to compensate for the constant worry that at any moment, others will discover the ‘truth’ about them. Sound familiar? In fact, it’s estimated that over 60% of the working population have feelings of self-doubt in the workplace.  In addition, the upheaval of the covid pandemic may have exacerbated these feelings for some, with returning to the office and in-person meetings potentially leading to feelings of self-doubt. ​

Taylor Root hosted a webinar on Imposter Syndrome to explore what it is and why seemingly successful professionals suffer from it. Hosted by Sarah Ingwersen, Global In-house Partner at Taylor Root, we heard from Professional Coach, Kerry McLaughlin and then had a panel discussion with three prominent General Counsels about how Imposter Syndrome has impacted them and how they work around it;

Terra Potter, General Counsel, Hexcel Corporation 

Sarah Hemsley, General Counsel, Selfridges

Matthew Wilson, General Counsel, Fremantle

What are the five types of Imposter Syndrome?

  • The Perfectionist; sets impossibly high standards for themselves. Often paralysed by fear
  • The Superhero; tends to take on too much in an effort to show they measure up. Can sabotage their own success
  • The Soloist; views asking for help as a sign of failure or weakness. Values independence over need
  • The Natural Genius; feels shame if they don’t master something quickly. Avoids taking risks
  • The Expert; believes they should know more than they already do. Procrastinates

What is the Imposter Syndrome Cycle?

  • Fear; increased self-doubt, fear of being found out on the next task, fear of being asked to do a task/source
  • Task/job request; causes anxiety and self-doubt
  • Procrastination/over-planning; both behaviours fuel anxiety
  • Task completed; feelings of relief and accomplishment
  • Receive feedback; discounts positive feedback, believes you were lucky / they were being kind / someone else would have done a better job / I didn’t do much

What tools can help overcome Imposter Syndrome?

  • Keep a positive belief record or tracker
  • Change the narrative
  • Acceptance and understanding
  • Work with a coach
  • Be consistent
  • Mindful exercise

Thank you to Kerry McLaughlin Coaching for sharing her research on this topic and to our panellists for sharing their insights and experiences.

Jobs

  • Asset Management
  • Banking (In-house)
  • Financial Services (In-house)
  • Real Estate (In-house)

AML Officer

A Global Real Estate investment manager is looking to hire a Senior AML/KYC officer for their Luxembourg office, you will be reporting into the Head of Compliance and will gain strong autonomy and decision-making skills in a collaborative environment. You are expected to: Conduct KYC and Due Diligence reviews and assess/identify risks. Handle both investor […]
  • Salary €80000 – €100000 per annum
  • Posted Posted 2 days ago
  • Retail

Senior Legal Counsel

Our client is a renowned international company in the consumer goods industry. They are currently looking for a Senior Legal Counsel (f/m/d) to join one of their global departments and head the legal function. The role will be based in Salzburg and offers excellent opportunities in a continuously growing business. In this role you will […]
  • Posted Posted 2 days ago
  • Media/Entertainment

Legal Counsel

This fantastic media company is looking for a Commercial Legal Counsel. This company works with leading publishing and consumer brands in the UK and is a key player within the media monitoring market. The company are a fundamental component within the media industry, efficiently providing rights and data to agencies, journalists, brands and publications. Reporting […]
  • Posted Posted 3 days ago
  • Information Technology

Senior Technology Role – London

Senior Technology Role – London A global, listed company is hiring a Senior Lawyer to influence the business and facilitate expansion in the EMEA region. Their platform helps clients operate more efficiently and innovatively in this digital era and is experiencing continued growth. This is a position focusing on complex and high-value commercial, technology, and […]
  • Posted Posted 3 days ago
  • Construction (In-house)

Legal Counsel – Construction

The Business A large international construction business. The Opportunity Fantastic front end construction opportunity, for a junior – mid level lawyer, to join a solid legal team with a wide variety of work focusing on projects in NSW and Queensland as well as tunnelling and building projects. Key Responsibilities Negotiate contract amendments with external counsel […]
  • Posted Posted 3 days ago
  • Asset Management
  • Banking (In-house)

Lawyer – Banking

The Business An ASX listed alternative investment manager with billions in assets under management and offices located in Australia, Asia and the US. The Opportunity Newly created role for a 2-5 year PQE banking lawyer seeking a unique opportunity to expand their skillset inhouse working within a high performing team in a thriving business. Key […]
  • Posted Posted 3 days ago

Featured Content