Even the world’s top CEO’s can suffer from something known as “imposter syndrome.” This is the idea that even as high-achieving individuals we fear being exposed as frauds. So feeling out of our league is a fate most of suffer at one time or another. The funny thing is that, just because we feel that way, it doesn’t mean we are. You don’t need to be the smartest person in the room to make a valuable contribution.
Whenever I coach CEOs, executives and entrepreneurs on their personal brand I advise they take this three-prong approach to build their confidence when they feel less of a leader that they actually are.
1. Don’t overcompensate. We have all seen the guy at the conference who is so clearly insecure he needs to beat on his chest like a gorilla defending his space on the mountain. Instead of pushing your opinions, over talking or brining “fake it till you make it” energy to the party, intentionally tone it down. This will give you the space and time to connect with a few people and move into a comfort zone.
2. Know what you are bringing to the party. One of the questions I always ask my clients is “what is the weather that you bring with you?” Having a clear idea of what your unique contribution is, and a goal for the difference you want to make, gives you a focus for your energy and attention. Focusing on contributing to the others in a situation – even if it’s just one person – takes your attention off yourself, and by default reduced anxiety.
3. Realize that they are not paying attention to you. Heads up. They are so busy worrying about being out of their league, which your place on the totem pole isn’t even really on their radar. Be interested in them. That alone will make you more interesting and out of your league or not, you will connect with the people around you as colleagues – and that’s a league worth playing in.
Karen Leland is CEO of Sterling Marketing Group, a branding and marketing strategy and implementation firm helping CEO’s, businesses and teams develop stronger personal and business brands. Clients include AT&T, American Express, Marriott Hotels, Apple Computer, LinkedIn and Twitter. She is the best-selling author of 9 books, including her most recent title, “The Brand Mapping Strategy: Design, Build, and Accelerate Your Brand,” which details proven strategies, best practices and anecdotes from real life brand-building successes to help readers design, build and accelerate a successful brand. Learn more online at www.KarenLeland.com.