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ATHENA Leadership Forum: Imposter Syndrome & Confidence in the Workplace

ATHENA Leadership Forum: Imposter Syndrome & Confidence in the Workplace 4

Learn more about the February ATHENA Leadership Forum from ATHENA Council Member Krashawn Martin, Recreation Supervisor for the City of Wyoming Parks and Recreation.


Do I belong here? Am I good enough? Am I going to be found out? For myself, and many other professionals attending the most recent Grand Rapids Chamber ATHENA Leadership Forum, these questions resonated deeply and helped us understand that we may be experiencing imposter syndrome.

Imposter syndrome, or the imposter phenomenon, can be defined as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success. ‘Imposters’ suffer from chronic self-doubt and a sense of intellectual fraudulence that override any feelings of success or external proof of their competence.

We kicked off this year with a discussion around Imposter Syndrome, led by Latesha Lipscomb, JD, Director of Engagement for Amplify GR, who shared personal experiences in which she has felt like an imposter, and how she works to break through it.

ATHENA Leadership Forum: Imposter Syndrome & Confidence in the Workplace 5

Missed the ATHENA Leadership Forum? Here are my top 3 takeaways from Latesha’s presentation:

1. Imposter syndrome is a passionate tango between assumption and reality. Despite evidence that we are succeeding (landing the job, completing the project, etc.), many still internally question and constantly feel the need to prove themselves. We often feel that we’ll be ‘found out’ and others will see evidence that we aren’t worthy.

This point felt like a gut punch for me. As a high achiever, I find myself placing pressure and expectations on myself that are not there in reality. I go to great lengths to prove that I am not just good enough but that I exceed expectations. And I’m sure that if I asked my superiors if my working late or on weekends was truly their expectation, they would say no.

2. Be careful – our authentic selves can become distorted when we see ourselves as imposters. Your authentic self is so valuable! We all bring something magical to the table. Own your magic and don’t compare yourself to others.

Whew! Another punch! So, if nothing changes and I spend years working like crazy, sacrificing time with family and friends, and neglecting my self-care, will it be worth it? How much of my true self will I have sacrificed because I chose to play the part of a work horse for my organization?

3. Give yourself grace and find the joy. Take care and be kind to yourself. Find or create a community of support when the pressure is high. Get a good night’s sleep, exercise, love on your pets, take a dance break!

There is hope. Start making small changes where you can. Keep track of your wins and reflect on them when you need to remind yourself of how great you truly are. Take a break when the pressure is high and be curious about how you are feeling. Also, acknowledge that there are societal impacts that are influencing our feelings.

“The greatest act of courage is to be and to own all of who you are — without apology, without excuses, without masks to cover the truth of who you are.”
― Debbie Ford, Courage: Overcoming Fear and Igniting Self-Confidence

Want to learn more about Imposter Syndrome? Check out NPR Life Kit Podcast, 5 Steps to Shake the Feeling that you’re an Imposter.


One of the ATHENA Principals is Living Authentically – ATHENA Leaders know their values. The ATHENA community is a safe space to bring your whole self. So, tap in. Bring your magic and join us at the next ATHENA Forum in April!

ATHENA Leadership Forum: Imposter Syndrome & Confidence in the Workplace 6

Tuesday, April 13
10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Register Here

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