“Fake it til you make it.”
I’ve hated this phrase once I’ve realized how it limited my view on my own success. Instead, I prefer to think “face it til you embrace it.”
Many of us (especially female leaders in male-dominated cultures!) can relate to feeling a certain level of impostor syndrome throughout our careers.
We’ve been told “you’re too quiet,” “you need to speak up more,” “you’re too aggressive,” or “you’re too much.” It seems like we can never get it right.
I’ve even been told to “fake it til you make it!”
What this sort of message does to team culture is that it doesn’t encourage us to be our authentic selves. It doesn’t get us excited. Nor does it build team engagement.
It can feel like a huge challenge to overcome impostor syndrome on our own. Let’s work together to build each other up to show up as our authentic selves at work.
How to Build a Culture of Growth and Authenticity
Impostor syndrome is a term that’s been thrown around a lot on the internet. Dictionary.com defines it as the persistent inability to believe that one’s success is deserved, or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one’s own efforts or skills.
More importantly, it’s the feeling of not knowing enough, or not being good enough for the job that you’ve given.
Women, especially women of color, are often made to feel this way in our society. We’re then given feedback that’s supposed to help us be “more confident.”
Harvard Business Review published a great article on how imposter syndrome has impacted women. They pointed out the power of the words that we use and also recognizing biases in the workplace.
Constructive feedback is great but feedback based on biases and a lack of understanding of the other person can be destructive to team culture. It makes us feel as though we can’t be our true authentic selves. And that’s what kills engagement over time.
When working in teams, we all have the responsibility to build each other up.
So what can we do to help build a culture that truly encourages growth and authenticity?
Here are some things we can work on to make a difference in work engagement.
1. Build more awareness on your own biases.
This takes time and practice but the first step is really having self awareness. Before giving feedback to others, take a pause and think through different perspectives. Ask yourself, “what’s another way to look at the situation?
Here’s an old post of mine that talks more about building energy awareness.
2. Ask questions before giving feedback.
Many of us as leaders feel the responsibility to provide continuous feedback. Don’t get me wrong, feedback is necessary for growth. But it also needs to be done in a thoughtful way, with curiosity of the other person’s thought processes and approach.
I think the power of asking questions is truly underrated in the world of leadership development.
3. Seek feedback on how you can be a better support for each other.
In the same vein, simply asking “how can I help support you?” is powerful to identifying gaps.
4. Celebrate each other’s unique and specific strengths regularly.
In general, we don’t take enough time in our days to celebrate each other. And we definitely don’t take enough time to notice and point out other’s unique strengths.
Getting in the habit of being specific with how our strengths contribute to team success will have a positive impact on engagement over time.
5. Encourage each other to have a voice.
Everyone deserves to be heard. And finding our own voice is important for personal growth and development. Focus on giving each other the opportunity to express their perspectives is crucial to building an authentic culture.
Overcoming Impostor Syndrome is a Team Effort
There’s been a lot of talk about overcoming imposter syndrome. Many are left feeling alone to tackle the feeling of not belonging or not deserving. But there’s so much we can do to build each other up!
What are some things that you do to encourage authenticity and growth on your team?
If you’re ready to overcome impostor syndrome and define a leadership style that is true to you, here’s a complimentary guide to help you get started! Download my guide on “3 Exercises to Lead with More Engagement” to help you discover how to leverage your values and passions in your leadership.