by Tara Halliday (UK)
As an executive coach or a leadership coach, you will have clients with imposter syndrome. About 70% of high-achievers experience imposter syndrome at some point in their careers(1), men and women equally(2).
As leaders start to struggle, they can be motivated to get coaching support. You want to provide the best coaching support and tools for your clients, to help them reach their goals in career and life. But the imposter syndrome can be tricky as it does not respond to standard coaching techniques.
The internet has also become noisier about imposter syndrome in the last five years, with lots of ‘advice’, much of which is unhelpful, and some of it even makes things worse.
Effective coaching is all about using the right tools for the job. Here are some tips for coaches to help your clients who experience imposter syndrome.
What is imposter syndrome
Imposter syndrome is the secret feeling of being a fraud, when you are not. It is self-doubt and a sense of not being good enough. Your success feels fake, and you are worried about being found out as a fraud.
It is not a lack of confidence, lack of awareness of strengths, a negative mindset or low self-esteem. But it can often look like that, or your clients may present it as that.
Imposter syndrome is knowing, intellectually, that you are competent, capable and successful, but at the same time feeling internally that you are not (quite) good enough and that your success has not been earned.
It is a dissonance between outer facts and inner feelings.
About Tara Halliday, PhD.
Tara has been a holistic therapist and coach for 21 years and is an imposter syndrome specialist. Each year Tara talks with hundreds of C-level executives, one to one, about their imposter syndrome. Those conversations prompted this article.
Author of the Amazon #1 bestseller, ‘Unmasking: The Coach’s Guide to Imposter Syndrome’ Tara will soon publish ‘Understanding: Imposter Syndrome, Neuroscience and You.’ Tara is the creator of the Inner Success MethodTM that uses deep belief change to eliminate imposter syndrome in high-achievers. She also runs Advanced Coach Training in Imposter Syndrome for experienced executive coaches.