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What do Lady Gaga and Tom Hanks have in common? No, not the hairdresser – both are presumed to be affected by Impostor Syndrome. Tom Hanks is a world-famous actor with two Academy Awards, four Golden Globes, and six Emmy Awards. In an interview, he admits:

‘When are they going discover that I am, in fact, a fraud, and take everything away from me?’

Tom Hanks feels like a cheater? He is plagued by self-doubt and cannot acknowledge his successes. However, not only celebrities are affected, but also ordinary people.

In my last blog post, I went into the exciting details of this phenomenon – here you can read the facts again.

Today we take a closer look at the effects that imposter syndrome has on the careers and everyday working life of those affected.

How Does Impostor Syndrome Influence Everyday Working Life Of Those Affected?

How Do You Identify Coworkers Or Leaders With Imposter Syndrome?


In addition to dealing abnormally with success and recognition, those affected usually feel the need to always be superior. If this is not the case, it's a failure. To come in second isn't good enough.

Affected people set themselves extremely high-performance standards and expect flawless and perfect work. Either from themselves or those working together with.

Also, individuals with an Imposter self-concept almost panic about failure— it's painful and embarrassing for them. This exaggerated view leads to excessive effort and hard work, even to the point of self-exploitation. They often expect the same from their employees.

Besides a fear of failure, those affected are also afraid of success - they worry about possible reactions from others - resentment, rejection, and the feeling of being different.

Finally, people with Imposter Syndrome deny their competence and interpret praise and approval from others as mere kindness. While they desire approval, they dismiss all evidence and perceive success as undeserved.

How Does Imposter Syndrome Affect Careers?

On one hand, people with Impostor Syndrome tend to avoid any task with a high risk of failure. Usually, these are new and complex tasks. Hence, they prefer routine jobs and well-established procedures.

In addition, those affected often remain in positions far below their performance level. Due to their negative assessment of their abilities, they usually do not seek higher-level assignments. Hence, Imposter Syndrome serves as a brake on the way to the top.

On the other hand, people impacted by Impostor Syndrome often shy away from a career change. From their point of view, every new job only increases the probability of failure, which must be prevented first and foremost. But it also means that they slow down their career – because they don’t consider attractive new jobs with growth potential.

Which Coping Strategies Are Useful In Everyday Working Life?

The good news is that those affected do not have to struggle with the annoying effects of Impostor Syndrome and don’t have to accept career restrictions for the rest of their lives.

A reasonable first step in coping is admitting that this phenomenon exists and that you are affected. If you want to check that: There are some excellent psychological tests.

It is also crucial to identify the syndrome as the cause of self-doubt and fear of failure. After that, persons affected must alter their beliefs and behavioral patterns. That is where coaching can deliver good support. In addition to an intensive examination of Impostor Syndrome and its consequences, the person’s self-esteem and self-efficacy will be bolstered, and the fear of failure will weaken.

Another helpful way is to assess the person’s abilities. There are some excellent methods for analyzing a person’s capability, which I often use in my coaching sessions. An objective assessment of one’s potential often enables clients to acknowledge it.

Are you interested in a first conversation? Please get in touch with me.

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Take Away

  • As a consequence of the Impostor self-concept, people affected consider themselves incompetent and are troubled by self-doubt.
  • In their jobs, people impacted by the syndrome react with extreme hardworking efforts and thorough task processing in order to prevent failure at all costs.
  • Affected people often limit their career opportunities. The negative self-assessment of their skills and a fear of failure means that they often remain in positions far below their capabilities. In addition, they often do not take advantage of any growth opportunities.
  • A suitable coping strategy when dealing with Imposter Syndrome is to admit that one is affected plus the readiness to change. Professional coaching, possibly in combination with a potential analysis, can be beneficial.
Are you interested in Impostor Syndrome? Michelle Obama explains it in this vivid video.

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Andrea Seekatz

I'm a trained & certified coach (ICF) and psychologist. Don't forget: Take Care of Your Self.

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