The Best 5 Steps to Overcome Imposter Syndrome for Executive Women


You don't need to worry about judgment here, lady. Imposter syndrome is real, and you are not the only one that has suffered or is suffering now from it. According to a new study released by KPMG LLP, the U.S. audit, tax, and advisory firm, the number of high-performing executive women that feel the same way you have may astound you.


  • 75% of executive women report having personally experienced imposter syndrome at specific points in their careers.

  • 74% of executive women believe that their male counterparts do not experience feelings of self-doubt as much as female leaders do.

  • Nearly half of the executive women surveyed (47%) say that their feelings of self-doubt result from never expecting to reach the level of success they have achieved.


If you’ve never had imposter syndrome (more than likely you have, but haven’t noticed it), this is what I’m referring to: It’s when you feel like a fraud, you devalue your worth, and undermine the experience or expertise that you bring to the table. It’s when you can’t seem to shake this feeling that you tricked everyone, and you’ll be discovered. It’s when you try talking yourself out of getting the recognition or pay you deserve. It’s when you self-sabotage with excuses just in case you make mistakes.


Even our former first lady, Michelle Obama, has spoken and written about how she used to lie awake at night as a young woman, asking herself, “Am I too loud? Too much? Dreaming too big?” She said, “Eventually, I just got tired of always worrying what everyone else thought of me, so I decided not to listen.” And now, it’s YOUR turn not to listen to those voices and overcome them. Let’s go! I will give you practical steps on how to overcome imposter syndrome and kick it out of your way.


Here are your 5 practical ways to overcome imposter syndrome


Negative Self Talk Warfare

Most of your imposter syndrome will manifest as negative self-talk. As a corporate woman, you must address this habit that limits your growth and purpose. When the doubt and negative thoughts turn into words you say aloud to yourself; it’s time to challenge those words and fight back with affirmative statements. You should present evidence that speaks on your abilities and why you belong here. For example, you might say to yourself, “Oh no! I‘m the only woman in this meeting. What if I say the wrong thing?” By changing your perspective, you change the thought and the self-talk into a positive one: “That’s right! I am the only woman in this meeting. I definitely belong here because my insight is invaluable.” I also love turning to scripture to encourage me. One of my favorites is Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Whatever words you have to use to combat that negative self-talk, use them. They’ll be some of your greatest weapons of mass destruction.


Own Your Accomplishments

It’s not a matter of IF you’re good at what you do. It’s a matter of you BELIEVING that you’re good at what you do. As women, we have this tendency to explain our successes away by ascribing them to “luck,” “hard work,” or “help from others.” It's time to own the role you play in your success by forbidding yourself to fall back on excuses! Here are some things to remind you of that when imposter syndrome starts creeping in:


  • Write down every achievement you’ve accomplished. You actually writing your achievements down on paper impacts your brain in huge ways! Write down professional milestones, testimonials from clients, and positive performance reviews.

  • Create a “Praise Folder” on your desktop or laptop. You didn’t get to where you are by chance, lady, and along the way, I’m sure you’ve gotten plenty of emails or IM’s praising you on your contribution or your work period. Save those compliments in your praise folder whenever you need a quick boost of confidence to overcome that imposter syndrome.


Visualize Your Success Before It Happens

This may sound like something you should’ve done in middle school, but believe me, it works! When you conduct a mental rehearsal to make sure you're clear and firm in your presentation, successfully finishing that project, or masterfully negotiating that deal, it sets you up for greatness before it happens. Remember, your confidence doesn’t have to only come from experience. If that were the case, you wouldn’t try anything for the first time. Visualize exactly how you will navigate before it happens, and you will kick imposter syndrome right on its tail.


Work With a Mentor or A Coach

To overcome imposter syndrome, 72% of executive women, polled under the KPMG LLC study, looked to the advice of a mentor or trusted advisor when doubting their abilities to take on new roles. I’ve been there before, and let me tell you, having a mentor was one of the significant factors in my life that changed the way I viewed myself and my path to my career success. I dive deeper into how to find a mentor in one of my latest blogs here. You may have the tools or even the path that will lead you to success, but a mentor has been where you are and will be able to assist you with any hurdles that you weren’t anticipating. They will be able to guide and support you through your journey because, as a woman with a 20+ year career in corporate America, I can tell you that it can get complex. Pointing out to your mentor or career coach how you can overcome imposter syndrome in your specific field will develop you immensely and root you back down to reality.


Stay Connected With A Group

My final tip on how to overcome imposter syndrome as an executive woman is by staying connected to a group. You may feel like it gets lonely at the top, or you’re working your way to the top and feel like you may be alone because you don’t know another woman on a similar path or position. But I have the solution for that with our Corporate Girl Facebook group. We are there to support each other in the different levels of corporate and the various positions we hold to mentor and encourage each other on our different paths. In this community, you’ll be able to network, build your skills, and enjoy FREE masterminds. Get ready to expand your network while engaging in fun social experiences and discussions all curated for you. You’ll also have access to customized personal and professional development opportunities designed to motivate, encourage, and inspire transformational growth. If you’re trying to conquer corporate and overcome imposter syndrome for good, click here to join Corporate Girl Network: Inspiring Success Through Mentorship & Community. We’ll be waiting for you there!

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