Do you suffer from imposter syndrome Michelle Obama does

11 Dec 2018 | by Claire Edwards










On her recent visit to the UK, Michelle Obama told audiences that her imposter syndrome never goes away, despite our image of her as an iconic American First Lady. Imposter syndrome is feelings of insecurity or self-doubt, despite there being no evidence to support such a belief.

Whatever the varied reasons behind these feelings, the majority of School Business Professionals would surely admit to wondering on occasion, if not frequently, whether they know enough and whether everyone else knows more.

In recent blogs, colleagues are talking more and more about the ‘softer’ emotional issues and personal qualities needed by SBPs, such as resilience and the critical need for support networks. In the last weeks of what has been a demanding term, here are some tips to develop our emotional confidence, to help us to be heard and to make often difficult arguments, in challenging times.

For those who missed the workshop of @RossMcWilliam at this year’s ISBL national conference, Ross explained imposter syndrome as thinking others know far more than you:









While ‘imposter’ feelings are helpful to the extent they keep us fresh and on our toes, they can all too easily encourage us to give up or simply to avoid difficult situations. The reality is that, as school business leaders and professionals we do know the most about our school’s business across our varied areas of responsibility. And, in any case, surely everyone else is experiencing imposter syndrome too?

These are some of Ross’ great suggestions to help develop and sustain a positive mental attitude:

  • Know that no one is better qualified

  • Realise you can control your reactions

  • Believe in yourself

  • Stop sweating the small stuff

  • Stay calm

  • Don’t dwell on the past

  • And don’t compare yourself to others, be the best in your role

Ross says “Imposter Syndrome is natural. We all have doubts about our abilities from time to time. For me, just being aware of this feeling is part of a three-part equation to master it. The second part is to keep actively improving your knowledge and experiences with a solid belief that you are going in the right direction. Do this and the third part comes into view - recognising confirmations and feedback that you’re doing a great job!”

A really positive activity at the workshop was to work with a partner, write down on a ‘confirmation’ card some of the key talents and skills your partner has and give them the card. For delegates this was really rewarding and provided unexpected feedback on qualities that others see in you, that you may have not been aware of. This could be helpful for a staff meeting or wellbeing activity.

If there is an area you feel really unsure of, take advantage of CPD, there is so much on offer.  But most importantly, as colleagues have highlighted, the SBP community is always there to support.  Do draw on your networks, on ISBL, on #SBLTwitter.  Don’t be afraid to ask.  Recognise your insecurities and try to deal with them.  SBPs love being ‘fixers’ and can’t wait to help!