3 Ways to Kick Imposter Syndrome

Self-doubt: the mental troublemaker that surfaces throughout our career. Every time we think we understand it, it changes its form and strikes at the worst times. An estimated 70% of people experience feelings of self-doubt or inadequacy at some point, according to a review article in the International Journal of Behavioral Science. Commonly known as Imposter Syndrome, this phenomenon generally happens when starting a new job or a new role within a company. 

According to a recent Harvard Business Review article on the subject, “Imposter syndrome is loosely defined as doubting your abilities. It disproportionately affects high-achieving people, who find it difficult to accept their accomplishments.” A person consumed by imposter syndrome feels like a fraud because deep down they fear their ruse will be discovered, and everyone will know that they are not right for the job. 

If this sounds familiar, tell yourself to “Stop!” right now. There are many well-written pieces on the subject that describe the condition, the cause, and remedies. Today, we will address three strategies to help you manage this syndrome during the critical first 90 days on the job or in the new role.  
 Don’t view your fear as a detriment; instead, frame it as a sign that you care.

Fear can be both debilitating and motivating. When starting a new position, it is normal to feel anxious, worrying whether you’re well-suited for the role, capable of handling the responsibilities, or able to gel with your new colleagues. It is healthy to have these concerns, just know that your new colleagues are equally nervous. Change creates stress because there isn’t a roadmap. 

When doubts strike, take it as a sign that you need to turn your fear into action. Keep a journal during your first few weeks on the job to jot down your fears. Getting your doubts on to paper allows you to acknowledge the feeling and get it out of your way. Note your imposter syndrome as you create your P.L.A.N.S. (Prepare, Listen, Activate, Needs Analysis and Strategy). 

Recognize that you cannot control other people’s perceptions, only your response. 

At some point in your career, you probably were told that perception is reality. Although there may be some truth in this, managing other people’s perceptions is overwhelming, especially when you’re new. Doing so distracts you from fulfilling your purpose and the reason you were hired. Instead, create a system that helps you stay aware and provides you with insights. 

Your best bet is to ask questions and track who you frequently interact with. Keeping a log will help you identify patterns faster, specifically a person’s verbal and non-verbal signals. You can use a spreadsheet or an online note-taking application.

As you log others’ reactions, also note your own. You may not manage people’s perceptions, but you can work on how you react. By observing your own behavior right from the start, you’ll be able to identify patterns about yourself—good and bad.

After a year’s time, if there’s an opportunity to take part in a 360-degree review, do it! As humbling as an exercise like this can be, it can also help you highlight gaps in your own self-perceptions.

Don’t label yourself as an “imposter” for feeling unsure.

According to a Time magazine article, imposter syndrome strikes many personalities, particularly high achievers or those that view themselves as subject matter experts. For those individuals, the internal chatter can be particularly harsh. 

This is another good reason to keep a journal. As you jot down your fears, record the negative statements too. Every day review these fears and statements. Think about what may be behind these thoughts and focus on changing the conversation in your head. For every negative thought, counter it with a positive one.  

Track your daily wins, regardless how big or small they are. This enables you to end your day and week on a high note. Focusing on getting wins on the board and tracking them helps subdue feelings of anxiety. 

Finally, accept that you are in a perpetual state of uncertainty right now. Regardless of your position, get comfortable being uncomfortable. Remind yourself that this period lasts as long as it lasts. If the anxiety and stress that comes with change leaves you feeling paralyzed, focus on the next step you can take. Whether it is starting a project or answering an email, focusing on the next step forces you to stay in the present moment. This state of mental focus has a calming effect and keeps you productive. 

SOURCE: Talent Activators

Stop Dreading One-on-Ones

Do your one-on-ones feel aimless?
Not sure if they’re making a difference?

There’s some solid science that says you shouldn’t give them up anytime soon. Harvard Business Review reports that employees of managers who don’t have 1:1 meetings are:

  • 4 times as likely to be disengaged
  • 2 times as likely to view leadership more unfavorably compared to those who meet with their managers regularly

One-on-one meetings can offer boosts to retention and productivity. They can align your team to a common goal. But how do you know if you’re doing it right? 

Consistency is key. Pick a framework that works for your context and stick to it. Structuring your one-on-ones creates predictability and can take a good deal of emotion out of the equation. Looking for a guide to kickstart your feedback sessions?

Follow this easy, printable PDF from Small Giants Community to keep meetings on track.

Always Putting Out Fires at Work?

Often people end the day feeling that they have not completed their tasks satisfactorily because they have spent much of the time “putting out fires.” This is just one of mode of leadership that can cause inefficiency and chaos in a company. Sound familiar?

When fires are continually being put out, it is because there is no planning and no clear definition of the company’s goals and objectives. This means that everything often has to be improvised and that generates chaos. It also means employees are unable to focus on what is really important for the company. When it is the leader who acts as a firefighter, this can create even bigger problems for the team as a whole. Therefore, It is essential to solve this dangerous mode and put into place a clear definition of roles, responsibilities and priorities. It is an exercise of rigor and self-discipline.

How can you stop fostering a culture of firefighting?

  • Make time to map out a plan based on annual goals and objectives and allocate the company budget accordingly.
  • Communicate the plan to the team to ensure each team member is clear on where the company is going, thereby reducing the number of “fires” and generating motivation and a sense of belonging to the group.
  • Clearly define the responsibilities of each position and the associated performance measures.
  • Create simple protocols for all phases of the value chain so that each employee knows their main obligations, resulting in a significantly reduced need to act in a firefighter mode.
  • Make quarterly plans to set smart goals for each job in the short term so that each person reconfirms their priorities on a regular basis.
  • Educate people on proper time management, teaching them to place on their agendas the tasks that really add value to their roles and therefore to the company. This can help employees form positive habits, effectively use their time, avoid unproductive tasks and, above all, move past the interruptions and duplications that these fires generate.

By following the recommendations above, tasks will cease to be as urgent because they have previously been defined, planned and assigned. As a result, the emergencies that are symptomatic of firefighter mode are reduced, generating greater productivity and minimizing stress.

Source: Jose Luis Gonzalez Rodriguez via Forbes

5 Questions to Determine if a Meeting is Essential

Your days are full, and it can be hard to get everything on your list done. You were finally making progress on a task when your focus is disrupted yet again with a meeting reminder. You don’t know how you’ll finish what you need to do today, and it’s probably going to be yet another waste of time. Is this just the way things are, or is there a better way?

According to The HR Digest, professionals lose an average of 31 hours a month on meetings–which adds up to approximately four workdays, or a total of two months per year. That’s a lot of disruption, particularly if those meetings aren’t actually yielding much. The problem isn’t just an overabundance of meetings; it’s that so many of them turn out to be bad meetings. But you don’t have to settle for bad meetings that disrupt your work and kill productivity. Great meetings are possible with a little bit of forethought. Let’s look at one of the first steps in that direction: determining the necessity and nature of a meeting.

Here are five filtering questions you can use to coordinate essential meetings:

  1. Is this meeting necessary? There’s a well-known piece of literary advice for writers: “kill your darlings.” That is, don’t get too attached to the storyline, especially if it doesn’t serve the bigger picture. The same is true for meetings. It’s too easy to get caught up in a series of meetings that don’t matter. Keep the high-leverage ones that support important goals. Eliminate the rest, and your team will thank you.
  2. Are you sure you’re necessary? Too often, we blindly accept the never-ending barrage of meeting invites. It’s natural to think our presence in a meeting is always necessary, especially if we were invited. But that’s not always true. Guard your schedule, and only say yes when you truly need to be there.
  3. Who else should be involved? If you’re organizing a meeting, think through who absolutely needs to attend. Remember, smaller groups can align more quickly to drive a decision. Relevant information can be shared with the masses later through an email or project-management update.
  4. What type of meeting do you want? Consider ahead of time the type of meeting that will help you accomplish your goals. Establishing this early on will keep the purpose clear and the conversation from meandering, so your time will be productive.
  5. What’s the right format? Historically, in-person meetings have been the norm across businesses. But nowadays, we’re all meeting virtually in some capacity, and in-person meetings are no longer the default. It takes intentional thought to determine what’s best for your team, and what format will work best for what you’re trying to achieve. If that’s in-person, great. Otherwise, your preferred video-conferencing app works great too.

Take control of your meeting habits. Routinely ask yourself, Is this meeting necessary? If not, be decisive and eliminate the meetings that don’t matter or that inhibit your productivity. Make the best use of your team’s time and resources by focusing on the high-leverage stuff, and you’ll start seeing less frustration and better results.

Source: Michael Hyatt & Co. Blog

8 Quick Tips to Dodge Burnout

To perform their best, leaders must nurture their minds and bodies.

Twenty years ago, the sudden emergence of ESPN’s daily poker broadcasting sparked global debate. How does card playing merit coverage, given the absence of spherical objects and sweaty high-fives? The emerging consensus that cards, chess, and spelling all qualify made sense to me only when I returned to the dictionary. Merriam-Webster defines an athlete as “a person who is trained or skilled in exercises… requiring physical strength, agility, or stamina.” Like chess, leading change requires stamina and takes a toll physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Leadership’s daily demands create a high-stress work environment. In a December survey, 76% of workers reported burnout. These challenges are especially prominent among leaders, and even pre-date the pandemic: school principals, for example, are nearly twice as likely to experience stress symptoms than the general population. Managing change daily on tight timelines requires nonstop communication, often with overstretched team members and stakeholders. The work requires the pace of a sprint for the duration of a marathon.

For both athletes and leaders, sustaining performance throughout an intense season requires careful planning and consistent execution. For their part, leaders need good mental acuity and energy to support decision-making. Leaders benefit from a comprehensive plan that parallels the holistic benefits of an athlete’s support system.

These 8 strategies create the foundation for optimal leadership performance:

1. Be clear on your priorities.

Fulfilling a leadership role requires clear vision not only for the organization but also for yourself. What is most important in your life? What do you want to drive toward, and why? How do these priorities compare with your role’s goals? Alignment between what your personal mission and your daily professional experiences is essential for fulfillment and for preventing or mitigating burnout. 

2. Fuel your mind and body.

What you eat directly impacts the quality of your thinking. Intentionality here is especially important, as high stress levels can lead to cortisol hormone spikes, which increase appetite and emotional eating behaviors. As a school leader, I often skipped meals due to a busy schedule and forgot to drink water; on other days, I chose to eat something on the go. Processed foods are low in nutrient density; consuming foods dense with nutrients — such as seafood, eggs, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables — and sufficient water is essential for brain activity. Slowing down lets your body absorb the nutrients in your food. If you make time to sit, connect with other humans in a relaxed environment, and chew your food fully, your brain serves you better.

3. Exercise sustainably.

Athletes must move their bodies to promote recovery and strong performance. Leaders typically fall short in one of two ways. Many don’t move enough; twenty minutes of light exercise can trigger the release of serotonin, which makes you feel more focused, emotionally stable, happier, and calmer. The movement need not be extreme: walking helps you think, improves your mood, and helps you sleep better.

If you have developed an exercise habit, evaluate whether it is supporting your goals. When an intense fitness class leaves you nauseous, exhausted, or injured, how does that help you? High intensity work, in fact, can promote brain fog. Is that actually what you want to do before your strategic planning session?  The ideal is somewhere in the middle. A balance of resistance training and aerobic work appropriate for your capacity and skills will best support you. Strength training has been found to improve sleep and cognition and to alleviate anxiety and depression.

4. Sleep.

For all humans, sleep is one of the most important things you can do, yet most Americans don’t get enough. Being underslept correlates with poorer decision-making and health. The really hard part is that, when you’re sleep deprived, your brain does not realize how sleep deprived it is. Take steps to ensure you are getting the sleep you need. Wind-down routines leading to a dark, cool bedroom help you bring your best self the next day.

5. Balance work and rest. 

It’s important to think about balancing work with rest and recovery, both in the short and long term: day, week, month, year. Most people enter unsustainable professional stretches, whether driven by a new project, understaffing, or significant disruption to work conditions. The rate of work at these times must be balanced by rest in order to avoid burnout. Periodic pushes may be unavoidable, but they must be balanced with rest and recovery. Don’t throw yourself out as the starting pitcher every day all year. Build a full bullpen by empowering your team around you. There’s a reason why leagues track player minutes and throw counts precisely. You have to periodize to avoid overuse and burnout. Conventional schedules allocate time for you to rest: use your nights, weekends, and vacations to unplug and recover. 

6. Regulate your emotions.

Athletes are able to regulate their emotions to bring out their best performance. Emotional stability brings out the best performance in you and your team. Practicing mindfulness, noticing your emotions in the moment, breathing, and building awareness of specific emotions all support your ability to lead. After practicing these strategies for your own emotional health, consider creating pathways to support your team in doing the same. Cultivating a space in which people feel safe to continually improve starts with you. 

7. Learn.

Elite athletes stay on top only by getting better each day. Modern teams have improved in recent years by drawing upon new sources of information, such as video and data analytics. Leaders, too, must intentionally seek out ways to learn. Dedicate time to reflect daily on what went well and what didn’t. Actively solicit feedback from your coach and your colleagues, and show your team how you have incorporated their opinions. Creating a culture in which your team learns starts with you.

8. Build habits and routines.

40% of our behaviors are habitual. Busy schedules do not allow for daily conscious choices in prioritization, rest, nutrition, movement, learning, and emotional regulation. Building consistent routines in each of these domains is essential to bringing your best each day. In the long run, consistency outperforms short, intensive bursts.

We receive and internalize complex messages about our bodies and our work. Optimizing for leadership performance requires aligning professional and personal visions with habits. As with professional sports, leading change requires discipline around the clock to maximize your results.

Source: Leading Well, Leaders as Athletes