Overcoming Imposter Syndrome as a Sales Leader

November 14, 2019  |  Posted by in Leadership Development

Have you ever questioned your worth at work? Have you ever thought, “I don’t deserve this…” or, “How did I even get here?” We all experience self-doubt like this every now and again. Especially at times when we feel we’re doing extremely well or we’ve finally achieved that goal we set years ago. This self-doubt has another name – imposter syndrome. Defined, imposter syndrome is a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success.

As a sales leader, imposter syndrome might look like, “How am I the one who gets to lead such a great group of sales professionals? I don’t deserve this…” Maybe you don’t feel as if you’re special or spectacular and that someone must have made a mistake in deciding that you’d be a great sales leader.

Whatever form your imposter syndrome takes, you shouldn’t have to suffer the negative effects of feeling like you’re a “fake.” Because you’re not! The popular business book, Good to Great by Jim Collins, offers some comforting insights that challenge imposter syndrome.

In his book, Collins refers to “Level 5 Leadership” as a major factor in what it takes for companies to go from good to great. According to Collins, conventional wisdom holds that hiring a “larger-than-life savior with a big personality” is what a company needs to drive sustained success. However, his research shows that the opposite is true. It is modest, humble leaders, rather than “celebrity-like” leaders, who have led good companies through a transition that made them great companies. In other words, if you feel like you’re not “special” or you don’t “stand-out” enough to be in the leadership position you’re in – you’re wrong.

According to Collins, a Level 5 Leader is an individual who blends extreme personal humility with intense professional will. These leaders channel their ego needs away from themselves into a larger goal of building a great company. They are characteristic of your “average-joes” who are more concerned with setting their companies up for success in the future, even once they are gone, than they are with their own personal ambitions.

If you still struggle to accept the fact that you are indeed worthy enough to lead your company’s sales team to success—even though you now know that you don’t have to be a big personality or a stand-out individual to be a successful leader—there are some things you can do to overcome imposter syndrome:

  • Recognize imposter feelings. Track your thoughts of self-doubt. What triggers them? An awareness of where they are coming from can help you shut them down before they take over.
  • Remind yourself that you are there for a reason. You are in your current position because someone saw potential in you. If others believe you can do it, you should believe it too!
  • Reframe. When you start thinking of yourself as undeserving or a “fake,” reframe those thoughts in a more positive light. Instead of thinking, “People will eventually find out that I’m not competent enough to be here…”, think instead, “Isn’t it great that I’ve gotten here?” or “How can I challenge myself to be better?” Being confident in your capabilities and having a positive outlook regarding your position will help you to reframe any negative effects of imposter syndrome.

You are a sales leader for a reason! Nevertheless, there may still be days when you find yourself struggling with imposter syndrome. But know that you don’t have to be “super-human” to be successful as a sales leader! Following the tips mentioned above will help you to combat the negative ramifications associated with imposter syndrome the next time you find yourself caught in a bout of self-doubt.

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