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.


  • Banking (In-house)

Asset Servicing, Director, Wealth Manager, 8+

This leader in wealth management is looking to appoint an experienced Asset Servicing/Custody lawyer with at least 8 years’ PQE to its EMEA Legal team in London. In this role you will advise on a broad range of advisory and transactional work with a strong focus on asset servicing, custody, depositary services and alternative investment […]
  • Posted Posted 6 hours ago
  • Construction (In-house)

Senior Legal Counsel – Monaco (MC)

Taylor Root has been exclusively instructed by SBM Offshore, a global Dutch business leader in the offshore industry, to source a Senior Legal Counsel for the New Energies & Services division. The role is based in Monaco, Montecarlo.Reporting to the Legal Director New Energies & Services you will join a team of 5 and advise […]
  • Salary medical insurance,pension
  • Posted Posted 8 hours ago
  • Charity/Non-Profit/Third Sector

Company Secretary

An exciting opportunity has arisen for an experienced Company Secretary to join CDP as their first dedicated Head of Secretariat. CDP is a not-for-profit charity that runs the global disclosure system for investors, companies, cities, states and regions to manage their environmental impacts. The world’s economy looks to CDP as the gold standard of environmental […]
  • Posted Posted 15 hours ago
  • Charity/Non-Profit/Third Sector

Regional General Counsel

We have been mandated exclusively on a newly created Regional Head of Legal position for a renowned UK conglomerate that is committed to sustainability efforts. You can expect to handle a broad mix of legal, risk and commercial responsibilities including, but not restricted to: Running point on building up firm’s strategy for the region Establishing […]
  • Posted Posted 20 hours ago
  • Manufacturing

German Commercial Legal Counsel (Contractor)

We are seeking: – German speaking & German qualified lawyer with a minimum of 6 years PQE ideally within commercial contracts and understanding of German legislation – Understanding of broad in-house commercial legal matters and dealing with high value contracts and transactions – Someone who is confident and comfortable building relationships and negotiating with customers […]
  • Salary £800 – £950 per day
  • Posted Posted 1 day ago
  • Asset Management

ESG, Assistant General Counsel, Asset Manager, 8+

In this role you will advise on internal and external strategic projects relating to ESG and sustainability finance and work closely with the General Counsel. Work will include: drafting ESG policies and creating ESG strategies; leading on gap analysis to identify areas of development; reporting to the Board on sustainability progress; and advising on non-ESG […]
  • Posted Posted 2 days ago

Featured Content