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Imposter Syndrome, pages 162-166.

Part Two: Leadership Tactics, 1. Becoming a Leader, D. Imposter Syndrome, (pages 162-166)

D. Imposter Syndrome

Imposter Syndrome is the feeling of not being ready to lead or not deserving to lead. While some see this as a bad thing, it can be a good thing. Those that feel they are not ready for a leadership position means they are humble. How this manifests itself into success is that those who don’t quite feel ready will properly prepare. Additionally, humble people are thoughtful about their words, actions, and decisions. Both of these are constructive. The opposite of this is leaders that are overconfident in their abilities. Because of their inflated egos, they don’t properly prepare. Additionally, they don’t listen to anyone around them. Both of these demonstrate arrogance. The challenge for the leader is to balance between being too confident and not being confident enough. An indicator of being too confident is too much pushback when decisions are made from team members causing them to have poor attitudes. If team members want to do something a certain way, the leader's goal is to let them. Provide guidance and suggest improvements, but in the end, allow the team to own the decision. This will only grow to strengthen the team. All the leader has to do is have their ego in check. An additional indicator of an overconfident leader is the lack of input from team members in decision making. This occurs when team members feel they feel they have zero influence on the leader when decisions are being made. This is the result of a leader with an out of control ego. The opposite of overconfidence also causes problems, when the leader is not confident enough. Underconfident leaders cause team members to lose their respect and trust. When this occurs, team members will shoot down the leader's decisions whenever possible. “People with imposter syndrome tend to clam up and recede – becoming invisible – which only invites more disrespect from the team.” To combat this, the leader with imposter syndrome needs to open up, ask questions, and look for advice. New leaders are not expected to know everything. The leader needs to act humble and solicit input from the staff. This will only go to grow confidence and respect. However, a respected leader needs to properly prepare before asking for help. “For leaders, there is such a thing as a dumb question.” Dumb questions let your staff know you haven’t invested the time and energy into understanding the situation and that you ultimately, do not care. “So, stay humble, study, ask questions, learn, and balance the dichotomy between too much humility and too much confidence.”

“Fake it until you make it” is a phrase sometimes used by veteran educators when speaking with new teachers or administrators. Both new teachers and administrators are walking into a dynamic work situation that centers on people and their everchanging needs. To say that every day brings about new challenges would be a vast understatement. Just as students look to their teachers for guidance, teachers look to administrators for support. Trust and respect are paramount in both situations. Accordingly, thoughtful and timely decisions need to be consistently made. Successful new teachers and administrators understand their lack of experience puts them at a disadvantage. To overcome this, they ask for help and seek feedback from peers and supervisors so that their decisions will be correct. During this time, they must remain confident in their actions because confidence leads to trust. This time, when new teachers and administrators do not trust their own decision making but make the effort to speak to others to learn and ultimately strengthen their decisions is the “fake it” period. After some time and successful experiential learning has occurred, the teacher or administrator, no longer new, will have made it. So, “fake it until you make it” is a work experience that allows the new teacher or administrator to grow from underconfident to confident. The challenge is then to always have your ego in check.

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