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Preventing Imposter Syndrome

Professor of Marketing and Academic Director of Executive Education at Alliance Manchester Business School, Bryan Lukas explores imposter syndrome and how executive education can help fill those knowledge gaps.

I don’t really feel I belong here. I don’t have confident answers. Actually, I’m way out of my depth; I hope nobody notices. If you’ve had these kinds of thoughts at work, especially in your latest role, the chances are that you’ve experienced imposter syndrome.

Understanding Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome is defined as the belief that where you are now, professionally, is more due to being in the right place at the right time than to your own skills and competencies. Simply put, it’s that uneasy feeling of self-doubt; and that niggling worry of being found out eventually.

Many of us experience imposter syndrome at some point during our working lives. A 2022 UK survey found that imposter syndrome is experienced by 80% of males and 90% of females.

It’s normal to experience confidence dips from time-to-time, but the prolonged anxiety often felt with persistent imposter syndrome could be a sign of something deeper.

A common root cause of imposter syndrome is knowledge gaps. In today’s business world, we often feel as though we don’t have the information, skills and tools that we need to solve challenges and excel at work. The best way to banish imposter syndrome for good is to stop feeling like an imposter. So, how can you close those knowledge gaps? This is where executive education can be highly effective.

Once you reach a position of seniority at work, you are given lots of responsibility and are expected to make decisive, correct decisions in complex and challenging situations. You need to be able to look at problems from a wide range of perspectives. Consider all the potential approaches.

Then cut through the detail to identify key areas of focus or importance—to be able to see the essence of the issues at stake. Having the ability to make these types of decisions quickly based on what really matters at the end of the day is no mean feat. And an inability to do this will almost certainly put a ceiling on your progression.

Executive education at Alliance Manchester Business School empowers you with the skills, tools and network to tackle complex business challenges, deliver results for your company and reach the next level in your career. Our programmes provide a strong foundation that brings imposter syndrome to heel.

All types of people undertake our executive education programmes. There’s no prerequisite. You don’t need a previous university education. But what you do need is a desire to perform better and move into higher levels of responsibility with confidence and compelling ability. And you can be from the public, private or not-for-profit sector.

To help you understand how executive education could benefit you and your organisation, here are three common situations that our delegates face:

Embrace increased responsibilities

You’ve secured a new role with responsibilities that are broader than your disciplinary area. To set yourself up for success, an executive education programme can provide you with new skills and the language required to collaborate with a wide range of stakeholders. An understanding of business needs and priorities, outside of your own discipline, gives you the broad perspective needed to confidently make strategic decisions.

Broaden your understanding

Day-to-day, you’re a professional at what you do. You’re in a general management role - perhaps you’ve been there for many years. But you’re itching to progress in your career. Think of executive education as refining your existing skills.

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut, so stepping outside your role to gain exposure to different areas of business – from corporate social responsibility to understanding a balance sheet – will broaden your perspective. You’ll feel informed and inspired, armed with fresh thinking to discover new ways to solve challenges.

Refresh your specialism

A master of your area, you’ve spent years building up knowledge in your specialism. However, with constant evolution in your industry, it’s hard to keep on top of new technical advances and contemporary approaches. Executive education can bring your knowledge up to date.

Along with fresh industry information, you can also widen your perspective by learning about broader topics including strategic planning, market positioning, international expansion, project management, digital marketing, finance, data analysis, leadership, personal resilience or business ethics.

When your programme is finished, you can return to work armed with a deep understanding of your chosen executive education topic, the latest developments and a new network of like-minded professionals.

Confidence boosting takeaways

No matter your background or which programme you choose at Alliance Manchester Business School, we can promise to give you two transformative takeaways. Firstly, an ability to think with far greater clarity about the challenges you face in your role. Secondly, strong bonds with like-minded peers who share similar career aspirations.

Taking the time to step back from work and undertake executive education allows you to grow professionally and return to your role feeling invigorated and able to implement new, powerful initiatives. Not to mention the confidence boost that your new knowledge, professional perspective and network will provide. Executive education is then a reliable way to overcome imposter syndrome and reach your professional goals.

Blog posts give the views of the author, and are not necessarily those of Alliance Manchester Business School and The University of Manchester.

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