Successful women breaking glass ceilings in their careers are to be admired; they are literally smashing it, running a business, pushing boundaries and showing the world what they are made of. It’s inspiring, to say the least. So why, in 2016, do so many women feel like a fraud? Imposter syndrome is a very real thing, and unfortunately, something felt be a large majority of working women. Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes brought it to the public consciousness in 1978 when in Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, and Practice they penned “The Imposter Phenomenon in High Achieving Women,” and it’s as prominent as ever, many a public figure has spoken out about this from Kate Winslet to Emma Watson. In essence, it comes down to the women feeling she has an inflated idea of her skills, coupled with an irrational fear that she has succeeded on luck rather than ability. This can be particularly prominent if you are just starting to get your foot on the ladder; perhaps you feel that you haven’t earned your early success – even though you absolutely have.
Ahead of our IMAGE Businesswomen of the Year Awards 2016 on November 21st, we asked some of the nominees for Young Businesswoman of the Year how they managed to combat these feelings:
I grew up with three assertive brothers, so that was a very steep learning curve. To survive, I had to learn techniques and strategies to make my voice heard and to establish mutual respect. I suppose I’ve translated this into my working life. I prefer to see business associates as people, rather than define them by gender. If one, two or three have an issue with me because I’m female, then that is their issue, not mine. I cannot control their behaviour; all I can do is to control my own response to it. I like to take my lead from Michelle Obama who suggests that when others go low, we go high. Katie McGlade, Director, Therapie Clinic
I’m confident In myself and my business, but that’s probably come with age and experiences. When I start something new of course, I have times when I doubt myself and think I’m not capable. I’m a positive person though and think that’s so important when you’re in business. Positivity is key. Also, I make sure to surround myself with like-minded positive people. Everyone on my team is on the same wavelength as me- when in doubt I’d turn to them for reassurance. Pippa O’Connor, Founder, Pippa.ie
Yes, definitely at the start of my Boutique Bake journey, in particular when looking for a manufacturer to help us produce our products. The food industry and manufacturing can sometimes be very male-dominated, so there were a couple of meetings where I felt like a complete imposter and felt I perhaps wasn’t being taken seriously as a young woman in business. Thankfully, I found an incredible manufacturer who I have been working with for over two years now. Looking back I think I should have had more confidence in those early meetings, as from day one there was large retailer interest in my product range, which means large volumes for manufacturers! Catherine Buggy, Founder, Boutique Bake
I am lucky to say, I’ve never really had this problem, my mum and dad were both entrepreneurs and I was included from a very young age in all their meetings, My mum opened a cafe, and I was in there from the get-go, so with out realising I picked up all her business skills by just observing, so it came to me quite naturally, it was almost second nature. Chloe Harris, owner, Foodie Cafe
Luckily, it’s something I haven’t felt. I come from a very team-orientated industry where people tend to pull each other up and support each other.So there’s always that culture to enjoy and celebrate your achievements – in our salons we’re very big on this and I think its a very healthy way to be. Danielle Kennedy, Group Managing Director, Lloyds Hair
Some weeks I feel like I can do anything. Other weeks I feel like there’s so much more I could be achieving. On those tougher weeks, yes, I do suffer from ‘Imposter Syndrome’. The last time I felt like this was in August. It was the week I was launching the new Cocoa Brown Kind range of shampoo and conditioner and I was doing a ‘Meet & Greet’ event in Penneys, Cork. I was terrified that no one would show up. Like a child before a birthday party, worrying that their friends might not come. I was sick with nerves for days beforehand. I was afraid of being embarrassed, afraid that people would think I had notions about myself by even doing a ‘Meet & Greet.’ I didn’t overcome my imposter syndrome feelings but I went ahead and turned up for the event without any guarantees of attendees. There are no guarantees that anything you do will be a success and accepting that there will be times when you fail is part of being in business. Picking yourself back up every time you’re knocked down is what will ultimately determine how successful you are. Marissa Carter, CEO & Founder, Cocoa Brown