Here’s How to Overcome Impostor Syndrome as a Team Leader

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Leading a team is a very important responsibility. This is true at virtually any company. The success of the overall organization relies on the continued success and strengths of each individual team. It’s your job to make sure yours isn’t the weak link in the chain.

This is, in fact, such a major responsibility that you may secretly think that you’re not actually qualified for it. Don’t worry if this sounds familiar. This is called imposter syndrome, and it’s more common among managers and entrepreneurs than you may think. Research shows that approximately 70 percent of us experience impostor syndrome in some capacity at various points in our lives.

This experience doesn’t need to prevent you from succeeding as a team leader. If you’re struggling with the secret belief that you aren’t talented enough for your role, keep the following tips in mind to overcome your doubts and regain your confidence.

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Be Okay with Not Knowing Everything

Impostor syndrome can strike for many reasons. However, it often first shows up when you encounter a challenge you weren’t prepared for. Perhaps in your new leadership position you’ve been tasked with responsibilities that aren’t quite as easy to handle as your old duties.

This is to be expected. No one is born with all the skills and knowledge they need to succeed as a manager. They simply develop their strengths as they grow.

You’re no different. To accept that you do have the ability to become a more effective team leader, look back at previous struggles in your professional or academic life. It’s almost a certainty that there are instances when you eventually developed talents that at first seemed to elude you. Recognizing that you were able to grow in the past will help you appreciate how to do so today.


Ask an Honest (but Revealing) Question

Because team leaders contribute largely to an organization’s success, company leaders don’t promote people to the level of manager for no reason. More often than not, the people who decide which employees or candidates become team leaders take their time when evaluating their options, as making the right choice is crucial.

If you have been promoted to the rank of team leader, you’ve probably earned the position. Honestly ask yourself why this is the case. What did you do right to make such a good impression on your superiors?

Ambitious people can be surprisingly modest. They may not always spend time thinking about their own strengths. If you’re that type of person, there’s a good chance you’ve rarely set aside time to consider why you’re able to consistently progress in your career. Giving yourself an opportunity to consider how you earned your new position will clarify why you deserve to have it.


Don’t Misunderstand Your Role

It’s not uncommon for people who have never experienced impostor syndrome before to do so as soon as they become team leaders. You may have been relatively confident up to this point in your career, but now that you’re responsible for managing other employees, you may be full of doubts.

This often happens when people misunderstand what being a team leader actually means. Too often, they mistakenly assume that leaders are supposed to be experts in all aspects of their work—which is, of course, not the case. Expertise is not essential to your role. Instead, a team leader is instead someone with genuine authority.

Consider the example of a film director. While a director may have some specialized filmmaking talents, in general, they aren’t expected to be an expert in cinematography, acting, special effects, music composition, etc. They are instead supposed to have an overall vision and goal. Their job is to delegate responsibilities to the experts whose specialized talents will help them achieve that goal.

Being a team leader is no different. You shouldn’t be surprised if many of your employees understand how to complete certain tasks more thoroughly or properly than you do. In fact, you should be pleased. Your job isn’t to know more than your team members—it’s to evaluate their strengths and leverage them to complete projects successfully.


Focus on Progress

This may be the most essential point on this list. During your early experiences as a team leader, you’ll likely achieve victories while also encountering struggles from time to time.

You need to focus on the victories. Don’t devote too much mental energy to experiences that didn’t go as planned. While you should evaluate your mistakes to determine how you can avoid them in the future, focusing on your progress is key to overcoming impostor syndrome.