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  • Amina Aitsi-Selmi

Why Imposter Phenomenon reduces your influence (and how to stop that) [Wise Wednesdays]

My CV was a meter long. I had more letters in my name than behind my name as my coach pointed out. But I still felt inadequate most of the time.

Imposter Phenomenon (IP aka Imposter Syndrome) is defined as the “fear of being found out” because we don’t feel good enough. Hallmarks are perfectionism, overpreparation, procrastination, and the inability to internalise success despite evidence of competence e.g. dodging compliments! At the heart of it is a fear of rejection.

Is that a problem? No. Unless it’s taking over your life. IP is linked to anxiety, depression and burnout.

In which case, below is a tool you might like to try before getting personal support. (n.b. Positive affirmations help but are not enough to uproot this pattern).


Awareness is the first step towards transformation. Sometimes, it’s so eye opening that the awareness alone is enough to propel change.

Tool: What’s Your Perfect Imposter Act?

Step 1: Map out how you DO ‘imposter’

How do you specifically hide (e.g. by dodging compliments) or overcompensate (by overpreparing and overanalysing).

Step 2: Identify the IMPACTS on your influence.

Here are a few examples of what this mapping might look like (these are based on real experiences…):

1. I doubt myself => so I hold back from expressing my opinions and ideas with conviction

2. I’m afraid of being exposed => so I don’t take any risks or step into leadership

3. I minimise my achievements => which undermines my ability to establish credibility with people who don’t know me well

4. I’m reluctant to acknowledge or internalise positive feedback => which reinforces the imposter feeling

5. I’m a perfectionist and overprepare => I overthink, over-research, overexplain which drains my energy, power and charisma

6. I second guess my desires => I water down my truth which makes it hard for people to understand what I need.

The most successful people on the planet struggle with imposter feelings. After all, it was originally reported among high achievers.

It’s deep work (beyond positive thinking) but it’s worth it.

The important thing is that you don’t have to live with Imposter Phenomenon. You just have to decide whether it’s getting in the way of your life and vision. With the right approach and support, you can shed its weight reasonably rapidly.

Legend in the Making: Dr M was burnt out from the weight of his NHS national level responsibilities in a highly specialised service. We worked on transforming his mindset so that this doesn’t happen again. By shifting from the Good Worker Performance mindset to the Leaning Back Leadership mindset, he brought more presence to his interactions and his conversations were more fruitful. Because he wasn’t explaining or defending anymore, he was communicating his needs and requests more clearly. Rather than expecting more from him, his bosses started asking him what they could do for him! He was able to negotiate a tricky restructuring that has given him more space and time to work on a bigger vision of the future of healthcare within and beyond the NHS. All from bringing deep awareness to his patterns, doing the deep work and showing up differently in daily life. Congratulations, Dr M!

By bringing awareness to the cause-and-effect patterns of Imposter Phenomenon, you’ll naturally start to make new, powerful choices.

As you transform Imposter Phenomenon, so does your ability to influence and create what you truly want.

Why is all this important to leadership? As the quote goes: ‘Leadership is not an art or a science. It is a state of consciousness.’ – Debashis Chatterjee. Leading Consciously.

We’ll be going deeper into principles of influence, the fears that get in the way and how to wield your influencing power responsibly at the Leaders Circle on Saturday.

There’s still time to join a group of fascinating Change Makers and Career Leapers.

Register here >>

‘Til soon,


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