Tackling Imposter Syndrome as a New Manager


You’ve made it! You got the promotion, they promoted you and have praised your work. Some of your colleagues are happy for you and others just a little jealous, but in general, they are pleased and so are you at the success that you have created for yourself. You know that they are expecting some great things of you and you are ready for the challenge.

A few weeks in and you are feeling just a little out of your depth. You felt truly confident in your previous role but this time around it all feels a little alien. You’re managing other people’s expectations, taking the brunt of things that go don’t go so well and feeling just a little out of place.

It's about now that the goblin turns up, you know the one… that droning voice that’s nagging in the back of your head. “What are you doing?”, “You’re out of your depth”, “They don’t respect you”, “You’re an imposter, a fake” “They’ll find out soon enough!”

We have all been there, haven’t we? That feeling that you don’t fit, that it’s going to fall apart any minute now everyone will discover that you have no idea what you are doing.

But it’s not true.

Taking a step up into a new role comes with teething problems. You couldn’t possibly know it all at this stage…no one can, because more often than not you’ve never been in this specific position before, with these people in this environment at this time in your life.

Remember when you moved up from Year 6 in primary school to the first year of high school? In Primary School you were at the top of your game. You knew everything, you knew just about everyone, you were revered, you were on it! Then you moved up to high school and became the smallest in the school, you didn’t know anything, you didn’t know anyone, and you truly felt like you had dropped right to the bottom of the rung. But you persevered learned the ropes and, it took some time, but you got there.

This situation is just like taking that step up into management and leadership. You require time to find your feet and determine how to manage your new position. You need to learn new ropes and establish yourself in your new role. It's easy to get caught up in feeling like you don’t belong. Easy to listen to the gremlin in the back of your mind that tells you that you don't know what you are doing and, it’s easy to punish yourself for not feeling good enough.

So how do you banish the gremlin and the imposter syndrome so that you can truly step into your leadership role?

  1. Don’t place unreasonable expectations on yourself. The truth is that you are a little out of your depth and, so you should be. You’ve just entered a new dimension. It takes time to learn and navigate it. It’s unreasonable to think that you should hit the ground running and be amazing straight off the bat. Be more realistic about what you can achieve at this early stage in your new leadership role.
  2. Seek a mentor or coach - get some help to navigate this new space, you don’t have to do it alone. A mentor in your organisation can guide you and fast track you through this awkward stage. A coach can help you build confidence and clarity and help you to focus on your goals and hone your skills. Both can help you navigate the ups and downs of a new leadership position so that you feel more empowered and confident in your role.
  3. Create a plan - explore what you want to achieve in this role, create some goals and then create a plan to achieve them. How will you manage your team, how will you achieve the goals that you are expected to achieve by your boss? What do you need to put in place to make this happen, how often will you have one to ones with your team, how often will you have team meetings and what will be the purpose? Fail to plan and you plan to fail.
  4. Meet with your team, as a group and one to one. Your team can be your greatest asset if you let them. Keep track of what is happening by meeting with them, keep them inspired by including them and keep them on target by giving them constructive & positive feedback.
  5. Focus on what you have already achieved and use it to empower you to achieve more. Remember you got here because of your skills, talent, experience and previous achievements. These mean something, and they will power you to achieving in the role that you are in now. Check in with yourself regularly to remind yourself that you deserve to be here.
  6. Focus on providing value. You’ve been doing a great job for quite some time and that’s because you were providing great value with your knowledge, expertise, talents and worth ethic. Keep providing that great value in this role and you’ll soon be navigating this role like a pro!

Remember, you were put in this position because your superiors believed in you. It’s time to believe in yourself. When you engage with something new it always seems strange and difficult at first, but, it takes time to bed-in to a new role and time build your confidence in it. It is, absolutely, natural to initially feel insecure so don’t let that insecurity throw you off the rails. It’s par for the course and the sooner you can accept this the sooner you will be able to find your feet and start to really make a positive impact in your new position.

Leadership take times and practice, even born leaders have things to learn along the way. So, get over the imposter syndrome that is threatening your success by facing it head on and challenge its place in your thinking.

You’ve got this, never forget it!