women having confidenceOne piece of recent news, a new report out by Pew Research, brought to national attention the fact that it’s more important than ever for today’s working women to be in jobs where they can excel and progress into higher-paying positions.

The study found that a record 40% of all households with children under 18 include mothers who are either the sole provider or the primary source of income for the family. This was based on analysis of the most recent data collected by the US Census Bureau.

Got imposter syndrome?

Even when women are successful, many of them, particularly minority women and those from less privileged socioeconomic backgrounds, suffer from what I call “impostor syndrome”–the feeling that one is less competent or qualified than one’s peers, despite the kudos and external validation from colleagues and clients.

Women who suffer from imposter syndrome, of which I was one, are often high-powered, ambitious people who feel they need to work longer and harder than their peers to prove themselves. However, they just can’t stop comparing themselves to colleagues and supervisors in the workplace whom they perceive to be superior.

These incessant comparisons are at the heart of impostor syndrome. For friends and family who see these women doing so well, it’s easy to compliment them, reassure them, and tell them to stop comparing themselves to others. But for women who feel like frauds, changing this fundamental attitude takes self-awareness, time, and effort. Learning to embrace one’s true power and success doesn’t happen overnight.

4 ways for women to build self-confidence

Here are four tips for women who are ready to conquer impostor syndrome and embrace their success.

1. Don’t define yourself through comparisons.

We tend to make comparisons with others based on our feelings–feelings of admiration or feelings of inferiority, for example. Whatever skills you believe you’re missing, when you compare yourself with others, you are defining yourself. Instead, look at others objectively and realize that they are not perfect, either.

2. Identify and celebrate your unique strengths.

Despite their success at work, many successful women believe they lack the very qualities their bosses and peers have in abundance. Have a sit-down with yourself and identify all the skills and talents and accomplishments you have brought to this position. Stop concentrating on being a replica of others, and embrace being an original.

3. Take your workplace culture into consideration.

Sometimes impostor syndrome is not just about your fear of not measuring up to everyone around you. One’s work environment and company culture also plays a role in helping newcomers, women, minorities, and others, such as introverts, feel part of the team. For example, your supervisors and colleagues may not believe that women have the same leadership potential as men. And many companies have a culture that puts demands on women to constantly prove their worth.

4. Seek the perspective of others; don’t stay silent.

Seek advice from a career coach or a trusted colleague who will not allow their emotions to influence their objective assessments. Ask this person to evaluate the reasons behind your impostor syndrome behavior. They can also give you a realistic assessment and help put you in a more relaxed frame of mind, which may allow you to more easily express your thoughts and embrace your strengths. Face your fears and don’t be silent about it.


Today’s guest post is from Joyce Roché, a trailblazer in the corporate world for 25 years. Joyce was Avon’s first African American female vice president; the COO of Carson Products Company, CEO of the national nonprofit Girls Inc., a board member on four Fortune 500 companies and is now part of L’Oreal. Her new book is The Empress Has No Clothes: Conquering Self-Doubt to Embrace Success.

Image source before quote:  Gratisography




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