Beyond Impostor Syndrome

On the other side of impostor syndrome lies great possibility. Don’t just settle for the comfort of overcoming it, go beyond.

Almost everybody trying to do something challenging or worthwhile will at some point have felt that sense of Impostor Syndrome.

This is where people are looking to you to achieve something, but inside you don’t feel all that confident. You might worry that people will find out you’re just making it up as you go along, or you might somehow regard yourself as a fake because you don’t know all the answers. Or you might just tend to put down your successes to a one-off piece of luck.

Working on overcoming impostor syndrome is a great thing to do with your coach. But, my experience with clients has taught me that there’s a place even beyond that.

When I’m working with aspirational leaders who really want to make a difference and to have a positive impact, I invite them to not just settle for overcoming impostor syndrome, but to go way beyond.

On the other side is a way of leading that allows people to be really true to themselves, to not have to ‘fake’ anything and, at the same time, to be able to meet the leadership needs of the people around them. This is a gorgeous bit of work to be able to do. It’s about finding what your true strengths are, what your character is really about, and then seeing how it feels to apply that in ways that suit your circumstances.

The impact you can have when people get that you’re leading in a way that matches what they need and is totally genuine and true to who you are, is astonishing.

Like anything that’s really empowering, going beyond impostor syndrome to that place of fully-integrated leadership can be a scary transition. But, if you want it, it’s definitely worth the journey. Don’t just settle for the comfortable feeling of overcoming impostor syndrome, dare to go beyond.

When I let go of what I am,

I become what I might be.

Lao Tzu

Teams vs Groups

What’s the difference between a Team and a Group – when do you need them and what makes them work?

People don’t always realise that there’s a difference between a Group and a Team and that not every group should be or even needs to be a team.

(In contrast, and technically speaking, every team is a kind of group)

Knowing which is which and giving some thought to what the functions and groupings in your organisation require can be really helpful, especially when it comes to improving performance, designing workflow and diagnosing the causes of dissatisfaction.

When you need a team

You’ll probably need a Team if you need synergy – if you need the sum of the parts to be greater than the whole.

If the efforts of individual people, working well in a Group give you all that you need, then don’t try to make them behave like a team. People working in a process, where they pass a task along to be progressed by somebody with different skills are also a Group.

If the outcomes you’re after are complex, challenging and beyond the scope of individuals, even working well as part of a process, then you need a Team.

I don’t know if the academics would agree with me, but I understand it in terms of my experiences:

  • relay runners racing in the 4 x 100m are a Group
  • rugby players, even with specialised skills and tasks, need to be a Team.

If you’re a member of the most senior group of people who run your organisation, you and your colleagues probably should be a Team – unless your business is a highly-specialised, one-off, short-term, project-based activity like making a movie. And even then I’d argue you’d add something by aiming to be a team.

You can use the table below to see the other key differences between Groups and Teams and some of the important implications for helping people to be productive and fulfilled. Alt-click the table and select “Save image as…” to download a copy:TeamsvsGroups

The Language of Emotions

A resource to help describe what you’re feeling, in order to support change

One thing that can get in the way of clients being able to change how they think and behave, even when they really want to, is that they struggle to make sense of what’s happening to them internally, on an emotional level. Put simply, we all sometimes just lack the words to describe what we’re feeling accurately enough to be able to deal with it.

Lots of psychologists and thinkers have attempted to categorise, label and structure our emotions and feelings. Right from Aristotle through to our current emotional intelligence guru, Daniel Goleman. If you’re googling, take a look at Plutchik’s work, which I think has one of the best structural approaches to classifying emotions.

For a simpler approach, which is slightly structured but can be used to be mostly just about the words themselves, the work of W. Parrot is really handy. I’ve made the simple chart shown above. You should be able to click on the image and then alt-click to “save as…” if you might find it useful.