top of page

Feeling Like A Scam? Brainz Magazine On How To Deal With Imposter Syndrome

In October, a stark headline blazed: “Three quarters of female executives across industries have experienced Imposter Syndrome in their careers”. The statistic came from a KPMG study, which surveyed “750 high-performing executive women who are one or two career steps away from the C-suite.” Nearly half of the respondents admitted that their feeling of self-doubt resulted from “never expecting to reach the level of success they have achieved”, reported KPMG. And more than half – 56 percent – believed that they would not live up to the expectations of their colleagues or “that people around them will not believe they are as capable as expected”.

A guy stare out of a window with an empty look.

This survey focussed upon women; and there is evidence that women, especially women of colour, are more likely to suffer from Imposter Syndrome. A British-based campaign, launched in April, studied 4000 adults and found that 53 per cent of women have experienced it regularly; whereas 54 percent of the men said that they had never felt it at all. However, it is becoming increasingly prevalent amongst young people irrespective of gender. A survey by job workplace, Indeed, found that 27 percent of millennials felt Imposter Syndrome in their workplace.

Imposter Syndrome can be debilitating. Feeling like you’re a fraud or phony can stop you fighting to achieve; hold you back in both your work and personal life; and even stop you trying to form relationships. Grace Jones is a Brainz Executive Contributor, speaker, coach and consultant. She argues that we can feel Imposter Syndrome as a momentary feeling – perhaps you have arrived at an event and freeze in the doorway, suddenly unsure of yourself – or it can be something that nags at you constantly.

Jones adds that it can be triggered by a huge number of things, both external and internal to us. These include:

Perfectionism: When we set the bar impossibly high and expect to reach it every time, it's easy to feel like a fraud when we don't.

Overcoming Adversity: Sometimes, we chalk up our achievements to luck or being in the right place at the right time instead of acknowledging our skills.

Societal Pressure: The world around us can put pressure on us to conform to certain standards, making us doubt ourselves (even when we shouldn't.)

Imposter Syndrome is also not something you can just cure. Executive Contributor, Alicia Rios Wilks, writes that it is not based on “the truth” of our abilities. It is as a result, though, of a personality that we have created for ourselves. She writes: Once we accept that our identity is not us, it’s our creation, then we accept that not only did we create the way we are being right now, but we can create a new way of being (a new identity) just the same. It’s not a syndrome, it’s a misalignment of identity. And we all have the power to create a new identity.”

This isn’t an easy task but it may be made easier, says Jones, by speaking to other people about how you are feeling. In the KPMG survey, 47 percent of the women said having a supportive performance manager had helped them manage their feelings that they were a scam and 29 percent said feeling valued and being rewarded fairly had played a huge part in ameliorating their worries. The latter involved communication about their value; their achievements and perhaps their concerns.

“People often feel like they’re the only one who experiences Imposter Syndrome, which can make it a lonely experience”, says Jones. “Realising that they’re not and that their feelings are not based on reality is a great start.” She adds: “It is a really common experience - much more so than we realise because people are generally unwilling to talk about it. It is also something that can even motivate us to step outside of our comfort zone in order to grow.


This article in Brainz Magazine on how to react after being scammed were written by business reporter Katie Scott.


  • linkedin-brainz
  • facebook-brainz
  • instagram-04


bottom of page