Why is impostor syndrome such a big deal for women leaders? Probably because it feels like a nearly universal experience.
There are a ton of reasons women seem to be more susceptible to impostor syndrome:
Women are typically socialized to be more accommodating and inclusive than men, which can trigger feelings of being an outsider when in a room of leaders who are more focused on direct communication and progress.
Women are statistically underrepresented in leadership roles, which can create that feeling of “otherness.” In fact, McKinsey’s Women in the Workplace 2021 Report tells us that women are actually less represented in leadership positions than we have been in years – so we have some catching up to do.
Women are questioned more often than men & often criticized for personality traits rather than skill sets or objective performance. For example, a direct communicator that is a woman is more likely to be told they’re “harsh” or “bracing.” Men who communicate directly are typically praised for being efficient and clear.
The good news? Impostor syndrome is fixable! The best place to start is with defining your personal brand. Having a clearly defined personal brand gives you grounding in who you are and creates expectations from others. Without a clear personal brand, you leave yourself more open to these vague critiques. If you’re looking to begin defining your personal brand, start with identifying your personal and professional value sets, your expectations for self and team performance, and the “executive presence” energy you want to bring into every room.