Have you ever had self-doubt, even though everyone around you thought you could do the job? Or have you ever felt you were in over your head, but there was no one to confide in because it was expected that you knew what you are doing? Surely you couldn't tell anyone—because you’d lose respect.
Bob, a 50-year old president of a small manufacturing company has felt this way for years. Although he owns the company, he struggles with “what’s next” and how to grow the organization.
He certainly couldn’t share these fears with his employees. After all, they may doubt or question his leadership.
Feeling like he always needs to have the right answers, Bob can sometimes feel like an imposter, putting on a brave face, despite his underlying stress and anxiety.
After exhausting himself, Bob has realized good leaders don’t always know the answers, but they seek to find them. It’s okay for him to say: “I don’t know, but how will we find out?”
Many business owners experience the same kind of fears as Bob. Self-doubt, or a sense of inadequacy, and even self-talk, are indicative of imposter syndrome. It’s a state of mind where, within a certain role or situation, we diminish our worth and start to question our qualifications and capacity to succeed.
When self-doubt creeps in, here are 3 strategies to help you overcome it.
1. Define what values you live by.
One of the most fundamental ways to overcome fear or paralysis is to consistently lead with your values. Start thinking about your values in more practical terms, and you can start to see a more realistic perspective of any given situation. Values help you understand the driving forces for your thoughts, emotions, and actions.
“We don’t have to wait for a life-changing event to examine and clarify our values,” adds Aileron President and Certified Leadership Coach, Joni Fedders. “There are signals all around us that our values are working for us, or not, and self-doubt that is holding us back is one such sign. We just have to pay attention to these signals,” she explains.
Tips in Action
- Examine how your values are expressed throughout your life
- Prioritize 1-2 values you want to express more in your life and define one way to express it on a regular basis
- Forget that many of our most challenging situations will keep “showing up” if we don’t learn how to deal with them effectively
- Ignore your emotions. If you’re angry, it can mean one of your values is being infringed upon. Ask yourself: which value?
2. Document your leadership point of view.
Second, grow your self-awareness by capturing your leadership point of view, a concept from The Ken Blanchard Companies. Dedicate time to think of leaders that have shaped you in a positive way.
How did they help shape your viewpoint on leadership? This may help you know more about your own beliefs and expectations about leadership.
Adapted from The Ken Blanchard Companies, other questions you can consider to define your leadership point of view include:
- What is your “why”? And what are you looking to accomplish?
- What can colleagues expect from you as a leader?
- How will you set an example—at home and at work?
The work is not over when you have documented your leadership point of view. Share it with colleagues so they can better understand the authentic you, and what they can expect from the real you. Consider sharing it during new employee on-boarding so that they have the same perspective.
Another tool: think of a time when you showed strength as a leader. What is it that made you a confident, successful leader in that situation? “As you start to list off those traits or qualities, it can help you identify the attributes that are important to you as a leader,” explains Joni.
Tips in Action
- Believe leadership entails being your authentic self–and not about being someone other than who you are
- Have the discipline to reflect on situations you encounter as a leader, seeing what is working, and what is not—and why
- Become overwhelmed by “rules” about what is (or is not) a “good leader”
- Compare yourself too often to other leaders; instead, use the process to know more about what you value
3. Get vulnerable.
You can be more prone to feeling like an impostor when you repeatedly find yourself resistant to telling others, “I don’t know,” or when you avoid asking others for help.
“These individuals may feel like they have to cover it up or they might be ‘found out.’ Other times they may feel that their value is in knowing the right answer, at all times, rather than finding the right answers,” adds Joni.
Tips in Action
- Ask yourself what can you do; rather than focusing on what you don’t know
- View uncertainty and ambiguity as an opportunity to explore possibilities
- Be afraid to say, “I don’t know”; it shows courage and honesty
- Judge yourself before you explore and try something you can do
Live Your Values To Be Your Most Authentic Self
Learn to overcome fear by leading with your values: The Leading with Values Workshop outlines a process that will make you a more conscious, authentic, and consistent leader. You’ll learn to optimize yourself by clarifying and living your values authentically, no matter what life throws your way. Register for the Leading with Values Workshop today.
This post originally appeared on Forbes.