Training and Development

What I Learned From Walking Off The Imposter Ledge

Published on
May 6, 2020
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A Big Learning Opportunity: After I walked myself off the "Imposter Ledge"

These are the exact words from the subject line of an email I received recently from one of my coaching clients. With her permission, I’m sharing her experience and passing on what she learned from this very challenging event.

The “Imposter Ledge” is in reference to the Imposter Syndrome that leaders may experience during challenging times (like right now with the Covid-19 pandemic) in which they question their worth as a leader.

This woman is an accomplished leader and highly regarded. So how did she find herself on “the ledge”?

Here are key elements of her story:

  • An application for a large funding source was due at 5 pm, and her entire staff was working from home due to COVID-19. (Sound familiar?)
  • Close to the 5 pm deadline a number of glitches arose, and signers for the funding application were not available.
  • Panic began to set in as emails flew back and forth with her client where she expressed apologies to everyone involved.
  • Feelings of embarrassment and shame started to consume her.
  • Pangs of guilt arose as she became more and more aware of how this was negatively impacting her team.
  • Close to 5 pm, the application was ready to be submitted, with a back-up plan in case signatures were not available.
  • At 5:30 pm, the signed application was submitted with a deadline extension, and application was 100% funded. Whew!

And here are the lessons she took away from the experience in her own words. We hope they help you as well!

  • "With anything I need to accomplish (no matter how small) I need to break it down to specific tasks and assign deadlines to the tasks."
  • "Always apply the concept of 'the end is in the beginning' and use different strategies to stay focused/present to break the process down."
  • "Most importantly, I need to remember that I have learned to mitigate my challenges over the years and am successful most of the time."

A very capable and experienced executive looked into the eyes of “Imposter Syndrome” and came out victorious.  As painful as it was, she is an even stronger leader now and has put that “Imposter” on notice.

To my client, thanks for sharing your story with other managers and coaches and for the “gifts” of your lessons learned!


Further reading:

Larson, P. Find Your Voice as a Leader.

Wilding, M.J. 5 Different Types of Imposter Syndrome (and 5 ways to battle each one). The Muse.

Stahl, A. (2017). Feel like a fraud? Here’s how to overcome Imposter Syndrome. Forbes.

Clance, P.R. and Imes, S.A. (1978). The Imposter Phenomenon in high achieving women: Dynamics and therapeutic intervention. Journal of Psychotherapy.

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About Chris Ranney

Chris Ranney is a BetterMananger Executive Coach and has worked with C-Level Executives, Executive Directors, Senior Management Teams and Business Owners. With dual careers in the fields of psychology and financial planning, he has long had a passion for helping others succeed, thrive and meet life’s challenges head on.

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