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Imposter Syndrome with Charlotte Bennett, Admiral Programme Director

At Admiral, we welcome people from all walks of life; we encourage innovative and fresh ways of thinking, allowing everyone to be themselves and perform at their very best without any barriers to success. We encourage our colleagues to develop, take advantage of the routes for progression, and to always challenge the norms.  But what happens when Imposter Syndrome shows up?!


So, what is Imposter Syndrome? What does it feel like? Who’s most likely to have imposter feelings? And most importantly - what are Admiral doing about it?


We caught up with Charlotte Bennett, Programme Director to find out more…

What is Imposter Syndrome?

When you feel like a bit of a fake, or you feel like you’re not really up to the job you’ve been asked to do, and you think somehow someone’s going to find out about this and something terrible is going to happen.

How can you overcome this feeling?

I’m going to talk about 3 things that I think you can do to make yourself feel better about this.

  1. If you’re feeling inadequate or as if you’re faking something in your role, if you’re not quite good enough, one of the really practical things you can do is to go and learn something. It will help you feel better, even if it’s something small. I’ve taken lots of roles around Admiral where I knew that I was managing people who were specialists, and they knew more about things than I did and that’s enough to make any manager feel insecure. What I tried to do along the way was learn as much as I could, as quickly as I could about the subject I was trying to get to grips with.

    Very often at Admiral we learn on the job and that’s great, but if there’s one thing that I could go back and change, I would say go and find out if there are qualifications, courses or exams you can do in a particular subject and do a level or two of those when you first take the job. It would’ve taught me a number of things a lot quicker.

    Find out if there is some training, talk to colleagues, or read a book, but whatever you do to increase your knowledge, it will make you feel more competent and that alone will increase your confidence.

  2. Be really open, be humble, share with people that you are learning and new and don’t be afraid to ask questions. That way everybody else knows that it’s okay to learn, to ask questions and increase your knowledge. A lot of the time if you’re working with people who know more than you do it’s not your job to try and know everything and do everything. It’s your job to make sure that the team works as well as it possibly can, so you need everybody’s knowledge and skills working together.

  3. Make sure you get support. Even though you might feel a little inadequate in the role, first of all that’s perfectly normal and secondly, you’re in that role for a reason. Somebody believed in you for you to get that role in the first place, you might’ve applied and been promoted and got the job or somebody might’ve asked you to play that role, but however you got there somebody believed in you and felt you could do it - so it’s ok to ask that person, or a line manager, or a mentor, or a colleague for support.

    Nobody is expected to succeed all on their own, it takes a team, and that team can sometimes include your line manager or your senior manager and the network above you. So don’t be afraid to ask for the support you need. 

Who is more likely to suffer from Imposter Syndrome?

Imposter Syndrome can be suffered by anyone, but it can more frequently be suffered by women or other marginalised groups, and women are often told to increase their personal confidence to enhance their skills.

Why is it that women might feel a little less confident in the first place
? I recommend reading Deborah Francis White’s The Guilty Feminist and she does a great talk in this book of the reason why women may not always be as confident in a room as a man. That’s because she says we have thousands of years of society behind us expecting men to be in positions of authority; confidence is both personal AND an expression of society, your team, your tribe, having confidence IN you, and traditionally that confidence hasn’t been extended to women. Having confidence implies that you have the confidence of others, that people are confident in you to be able to do your role. So sometimes a lack of confidence in a role might not necessarily come entirely from inside you, it might also be signals that you’ve picked up on throughout your life; particularly if you are in an area where you don’t look like the most common or represented group to usually occupy that role. 

Because it’s a collective issue, as well an individual one, we need to make sure that as managers, as colleagues, as peers, that we do our absolute best to support one another and push a culture of having a learning mindset and growth mindset, instead of a fixed one where we expect people to be ready-made experts. It’s okay to learn, and it’s okay to step into a new role and you should be collectively supported. It’s not always an individual issue, don’t just blame yourself for a lack of confidence.

As well as having these regular, open and honest discussions around the business on Imposter Syndrome, Admiral have taken further steps in helping our colleagues shake the feeling…

Admiral Internal Careers Office: the service incorporates different initiatives which will help our talented colleagues develop their careers and achieve their goals – whatever they may be. Whatever position, business area, or length of service, we are on hand to support each one of our colleagues with various services and formal development programmes.

Award-winning in-house Learning and Development Team (L&D): Admiral Academy offer an array of self-development courses to increase people and communication skills and technical knowledge. As well as our popular Buy-a-Book-Scheme (two free books per month to help colleagues learn and develop), our L&D team offer internal and externally recognised qualifications, a range of podcasts (including a great one on Imposter Syndrome!) and professional in-house coaching.

We believe in creating a welcoming, supportive, safe and fair workplace for everybody. If you'd like to join us, check out our opportunities here

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