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  • Writer's pictureDavid Stamation

Imposter Syndrome - Roles

The imposter syndrome can impact very successful senior executives and entrepreneurs. Let’s define it:


People who struggle with imposter syndrome believe that they are undeserving of their achievements and the high esteem in which they are, in fact, generally held. They feel that they aren’t as competent or intelligent as others might think – and that soon enough, people will discover the truth about them. Those with imposter syndrome are often well accomplished; they may hold high office or have numerous academic degrees. – Psychology Today


For those that have imposter syndrome they tend to take on typical roles.


The Helper/The Pleaser: Everyone reaches out to you when they have a problem. The issue with this role is that no one ever thinks you might need help. Pleasers usually develop resentment that infects relationships.

The Individualist: Due to your concern about being exposed as a fraud you’re reluctant to collaborate and prefer your role as a successful individual contributor.

The Risk Avoidant: To preserve your fraudulent identity you are very resistant to taking risks that might result in failure. You might not take risks in your personal life, missing opportunities for growth. Playing it safe results in stagnancy.

The Expert/Knowledge Hub: Being knowledgeable allows you to briefly ward off impostors’ feelings; therefore, you want to share this knowledge. The trap here is living in constant anxiety of being asked a question you can’t answer, limiting who you interact with. Avoidance plays a role here.

Leading from Behind: It feels safer to make your impact behind the scenes. The risk is that others may take credit for work you have usually done leaving you with feelings of resentment and frustration.


The building blocks of the imposter syndrome are established in early life, some examples are family culture or from an academic experience. The good news is, it can be softened or eliminated with coaching.

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