Do you worry that you're about to be found out? If so, you're not alone...

DO YOU WORRY THAT YOU’RE ABOUT TO BE FOUND OUT? IF SO, YOU’RE NOT ALONE…

At the Henley Women in Leadership Forum, hosted by property company U+I in London, an audience of 150 delegates heard Dr Christian van
Nieuwerburgh, Associate Professor in Coaching at Henley, and a diverse panel of women in business discuss the phenomenon of ‘imposter syndrome’, which, according to research, affects up to 70% of us at some time in our lives.

As Christian explained, imposter syndrome tends to affect women more than men, but is also felt disproportionately among high achievers who have suffered any kind of discrimination.

Imposter syndrome manifests itself in feelings of anxiety and thoughts such as
• I’m a fake
• Any success was all – or mainly – down to luck
• I’m going to be found out, sooner or later

But what can we do to cure the symptoms or at least alleviate them?

The outcomes of imposter syndrome will often include anxiety, excessive working and a negative impact on our well-being, so it is important to understand the role of our ‘inner game’ and the effect of performanceinhibiting thoughts, such as telling ourselves that we aren’t any good
at maths.

Conversely, practising performanceenhancing thoughts and ‘backing ourselves’ can promote positive behaviour and build confidence.

The event also incorporated Christian’s latest thinking on the subject of unconscious bias, including the suggestion that it is part of the way our
neurological system saves us time, by providing a short-cut in our decisionmaking processes.

Finally, a panel of business women took part in an interactive discussion about how the impact of confidence – or the lack of it – had played a part in their own career progression, and how their learning development had enhanced that confidence.

From the audience feedback it was clear that the issues experienced by the panel members resonated with many of those attending, and the strategies suggested by Christian and the panel attracted a great deal of interest

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If you have any questions, please contact our programme advisors, Hannah, Ruhi & Diana by email at exec@henley.ac.uk or by phone on +44 (0)1491 418767.

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