Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

By Kim Perry, TRUST President

Imposter syndrome. It’s the sneaky voice in your head that frequently asks, “Do I deserve this promotion? Why was I selected for this big project? Who would want to hear me present on this topic?” Imposter syndrome is your inner critic who tries to convince you you’re faking it while everyone else confidently knows what they’re doing.

If you have imposter syndrome, you’re not the only one. I have experienced this (and still do!). A 2020 KPMG poll found 75% of high-performing women executives experienced imposter syndrome at least once in their careers.1 And there are numerous books on the subject, including one from our 2023 TRUST Forum keynote speaker Teresa Sande. Teresa’s book, “Find Your Fierce,” shows women how to interrupt imposter syndrome and own their success, or as she puts it, to “stand in your greatness.”

The weight of expectations for many women in leadership roles can be heavy with self-imposed and external pressures. But the truth is while imposter syndrome is a manifestation of self-doubt, it’s not a reflection of your capabilities or worth—and imposter syndrome can be overcome.

Recognize It: First, recognize imposter syndrome as the psychological pattern it is. Know that you’re not alone in these feelings, and most importantly, that you’re not an imposter—you belong in your roles!

Celebrate Your Achievements: Revisit your past successes as a reminder of your abilities. Reflect on the hard work, dedication and skills that led to your accomplishments. Take time to celebrate your successes and you’ll find it quiets feelings of inadequacy.

Reframe Failure: Journeys are seldom a straight line to success. Setbacks will happen to every leader. Instead of seeing errors as evidence of imposter syndrome, view stumbles as learning opportunities. Remember, remarkable growth often emerges from mistakes.

Avoid Comparisons: It’s easy to compare ourselves to others; however, everyone is on a unique journey. Just because someone else’s path seems more successful doesn’t make your path any less valid.

Seek Out Mentors: Surround yourself with a support system of people who can provide invaluable guidance and perspective. Mentors have likely experienced imposter syndrome themselves and can help you gain confidence in your capabilities. Our TRUST Mentorship Program is a terrific way to build or enhance your confidence and skills.

Remember, everyone feels moments of doubt—even the most accomplished leaders. What differentiates leaders is their ability to push through imposter feelings and persevere within their greatness. Imposter syndrome doesn’t have to define you. Every project you’ve led and every challenge you’ve overcome is a testament to your talent. Own your success!

1 Entrepreneur, June 2023

Kim Perry serves as the 2023 TRUST President and is a health care consultant, board member and advisor to various organizations. Kim is passionate about women in leadership and was honored as Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal’s 2020 Women in Business. She is also dedicated to improving access to high-quality health care for the underserved. Kim was recently Board Chair of Neighborhood Health Source, a federally qualified health center.