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As a leader you have climbed through the ranks and have the achievements and monetary compensation to show for your success. It is likely that most people you lead and interact with regard you as a good leader in general terms and look up to you for direction.

However, it could be that you lack the confidence to claim your achievements. Work and success become a path for trying to win approval and compensate for your perceived fears. This is called the ‘impostor syndrome’, a condition that can destabilize the confidence and self-esteem of successful people. While it affects both men and women, successful women make a big number of those who have experienced this before.

Lack of personal recognition in one’s abilities and successes can quickly erode one’s self-esteem and lead to stress and depression. One of a leader’s main assets is the knowledge, experience and ability they bring to any occasion. Providing clear direction and subsequent action can be hampered greatly by a lack of self-belief. Here are 6 confidence tips you can use to manage or, even better, overcome impostor syndrome:

1. Recognise it
The first step in dealing with this confidence crisis. The people who coined the term describe it as a state of mind in which the individual is not able to see and appreciate their own achievements. Instead, the individual credits the accomplishments as being a result of timing, luck or even deception. First, identify the parameters of this syndrome, then accept it.

2. Own your achievements
The biggest nourisher of imposter syndrome are the doubts one has of past achievements. We alienate ourselves from our biggest successes because we think we did not achieve them on merit. To counter this deep self-doubt, start owning your achievements. This replaces the feeling of inadequacy with a sense of certainty and pride.

3. Keep the bar high
With a lack of self-confidence comes the temptation to lower expectations. Embrace the pressure that imposter syndrome creates and allow it to motivate you to perform better. The more obstacles you overcome the bigger the sense of achievement you will feel. An honest audit on your progress will show you luck had nothing to do with it.

4. Expose yourselves and take risks
The best way to respond when you feel this pressure is to embrace the feeling of vulnerability. Remove the mask which feeds your inadequacy and sense of poor esteem.

5. Be Decisive even when you are not ready
Making bold decisions fosters confidence and forces us to confront our fears. Being held back by fear or the need for perfection will not work. Embrace the gifts you notice in fear and perfectionsism and then allow yourself to flow forward with a more creative and embracing attitude and notice what opens up for you as a result.

6. Limit your need for external validation
We’re all exposed to criticism and observation. We also have the tendency to compare ourselves to others. This, in turn, breeds the need for external validation. Avoiding this need for approval is crucial for building confidence. Learn how to ask yourself critical questions, using yourninternal validation as your guide.

Tania Watson is the founder of Creative Coaching and an executive coach, organisational consultant and leadership specialist. Creative Coaching is a successful company dedicated to the development of senior leaders in organisations through one to one coaching, intact team development and group facilitation. If you or someone from your organisation would like to have a no obligation conversation about how Creative Coaching may be able to help, please email Tania directly at

Executive Coach | Organisational Development Consultant | Leadership Specialist | Champion of People and Their Potential. Follow me for #leadership tips.

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