Being a business owner comes with a host of problems and challenges, and many of those challenges are compounded by things like stress and anxiety. Another huge issue that I see far too often as a business coach is something called imposter syndrome.
Dictionary.com defines imposter syndrome as "anxiety or self-doubt that results from persistently undervaluing one's competence and active role in achieving success, while falsely attributing one's accomplishments to luck or other external forces."
Now you may say, "David, everyone doubts their abilities now and again. That's normal." And to a degree you are correct, but if you start to change the way you behave or lead your company as a result of such thoughts, then it is a bigger issue that needs to be addressed.
This issue affects business owners at all stages of growth and can be particularly bothersome the faster your company grows. That said, I want to go over some of the signs that point to having imposter syndrome as a business owner to help you recognize it faster. Here are some examples of behaviors that I see with our coaching clients.
You Do Too Much
As a business owner, your time is valuable and as such, you should be learning how to delegate lower-level tasks to give you more time to focus on higher-level tasks that will bring value to your business.
But if you suffer from imposter syndrome, you may struggle with handing off tasks because you don't feel like your time is valuable. You struggle to see the value in your work and don't see a reason to delegate those smaller tasks to someone else on your team. These feelings can slow the growth of your business, and make it more difficult to lead your team.
You Don't Celebrate Your Victories
Another sign that you may be suffering from imposter syndrome is how you celebrate your success and victories. A leader understands the importance of celebrating their success along the way and will encourage others on the team to do the same. If you have doubt about your own abilities as a leader in your position and feel like any success that you experience is simply luck or due to external forces, then celebrating those victories seems ill-placed.
You Need Validation
A good leader will try to create a foundation for their business that doesn't need their constant input. They will train their team to keep the business up and running without their day-to-day attention. If you struggle with imposter syndrome, you may shy away from this idea, because the more that your business needs you, the more validation you receive on a day-to-day basis. This constant need helps validate your place in the company and helps you (albeit momentarily) dismiss the thoughts that you are an imposter in your position.
The first step to overcoming imposter syndrome is to admit that there is an issue. If you find yourself exhibiting some of these behaviors, you will want to look into why you feel the need to do these items and then work towards finding alternate ways of handling them.