Time to Address the Imposter Syndrome and Crisis of
Confidence Caused by a Failure to Develop Leaders
The increasing prevalence of imposter syndrome, permissive leadership, and the crisis of confidence among leaders can be attributed to a combination of factors, including a lack of leadership development, emotional intelligence, and self-awareness. Fear of not being a “good enough” leader often results in poorly defined expectations, an inability to provide timely feedback and course correction, and a distorted idea about what employees need. Despite the crucial role of leadership development in addressing these issues, many organizations still fail to invest in comprehensive training programs, with leaders ultimately blaming employees for the problems that arise and absolving themselves of any responsibility for it.
THE LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT GAP:
WHY AREN’T LEADERS RECEIVING THE TRAINING THEY NEED?
While most organizations will say that a lack of time or financial resources is the reason for not doing leadership development, we’ve found that the mindset and fixed beliefs of C-Suite and senior leaders are more likely to be the cause. Here are some examples:
Misconceptions About Leadership Competencies
One of the primary reasons leaders don’t receive adequate training is the widespread misconception that leadership competence is innate rather than learned. This belief perpetuates the notion that individuals who excel in their technical roles will naturally make effective leaders, negating the need for targeted leadership development programs.
Overemphasis on Short-Term Results
The mindset that we don’t have time because of the relentless focus on short-term results causes leaders to be under immense pressure to deliver immediate gains. This emphasis on short-term performance can lead organizations to disregard the long-term benefits of leadership development, such as increased employee engagement, innovation, and resilience.
Lack of Awareness About the Importance of Emotional Intelligence and Self-Awareness
Emotional intelligence and self-awareness are crucial components of effective leadership, yet they are often overlooked in favor of more tangible, technical skills. Organizations may be unaware of the significance of these traits in leadership success, leading to a failure to incorporate them into training programs.
Failure of Senior Leaders to Participate
Often senior leaders don’t participate in their own leadership development programs, coming from the mindset that they are fine; it’s the next-level leaders who need developing. By not participating, they are ill-prepared to support and manage the implementation of new behaviors. Not linking leadership development to organizational systems, especially the performance management system, can stop the program’s effectiveness.
Egos & Defensive Behavior
Egos and defensive behavior are among the most significant barriers to leadership development, as they prevent leaders from recognizing their weaknesses and embracing opportunities for growth. These traits can hinder an individual’s willingness to engage in self-reflection and accept feedback, ultimately stifling their development and negatively impacting their performance as a leader.
THE CONSEQUENCES: SHIFTING BLAME AND THE IMPACT ON EMPLOYEES AND ORGANIZATIONS
The following are only a few of the many consequences caused by the leadership crisis of confidence and Imposter Syndrome.
Decreased Employee Engagement and Motivation
When leaders blame employees for problems stemming from their own lack of training and development, it can profoundly impact employee engagement and motivation. This blame-shifting can create a toxic work environment where employees feel unsupported, undervalued, and unfairly held accountable for issues beyond their control.
High Turnover and Talent Retention Issues
As a result of decreased employee engagement and motivation, organizations may face high turnover rates and struggle to retain top talent. This can disrupt operations, hinder long-term growth, and result in additional costs associated with recruitment and onboarding.
Inefficient Management and Communication
Untrained leaders may struggle to effectively manage and communicate with their teams, leading to inefficient operations and a lack of cohesion. Their lack of training manifests in various ways, such as poorly defined expectations, delayed feedback, and an inability to course-correct when necessary.
Perpetuation of Fixed Mindsets and Resistance to Change
Leaders lacking emotional intelligence and self-awareness training may have fixed mindsets about what employees need and how they should perform. Because they don’t see themselves as a part of the problem, they resist change and development, instead complaining about the “new generation of employees.” Their rigidity can stifle innovation, hinder organizational adaptability, and reinforce ineffective leadership practices.
Erosion of Organizational Culture and Reputation
The negative effects of untrained leaders and blame-shifting can erode the organization’s culture and reputation, both internally and externally. A toxic work environment, high turnover rates, and inefficiencies can tarnish the organization’s image, making it challenging to attract and retain top talent, clients, and investors.
Hindered Organizational Growth and Success
Ultimately, failing to invest in leadership development and the ensuing blame-shifting can significantly hinder organizational growth and success. As leaders struggle to effectively manage their teams, adapt to change, and foster innovation, the organization may stagnate and fall behind competitors who prioritize leadership development and cultivate supportive, resilient work cultures.
A SYSTEMS APPROACH TO EMPOWERED LEADERSHIP
The crisis of confidence and Imposter Syndrome among leaders can be traced back to inadequate leadership development, limited emotional intelligence, and a lack of self-awareness. These deficiencies lead to a host of issues, including undefined expectations, inefficient management practices, and fixed mindsets about employee capabilities.
Despite the clear need for comprehensive leadership training, many organizations continue to overlook this crucial investment, with leaders often resorting to blaming employees for the problems that arise. This blame-shifting erodes employee engagement and motivation and has far-reaching consequences for organizational culture, reputation, and long-term success.
Organizations can empower leaders to overcome self-doubt, unleash their full potential, and drive lasting success by equipping them with the skills and tools necessary to foster supportive, resilient work environments. To address this leadership development gap and mitigate the negative effects of Imposter Syndrome, organizations must recognize the importance of emotional intelligence and self-awareness in leadership success and commit to investing in targeted training programs. They must also connect any leadership development with their vision, mission, values, leadership model and other performance and reward systems.
For more information about our Leading with Authority, Quick Start Leadership, Leadership Foundations and From Imposter to Powerful for Leaders programs, or to inquire about leadership coaching, contact us at [email protected].
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Anne Dranitsaris is an Executive Coach, Leadership Consultant, Facilitator, and Author. She is an expert in the neuropsychology of personality and its applications in leadership development and a seasoned entrepreneur with several businesses of her own. Affectionately known as “Yoda” by clients, she is the co-creator of the Striving Styles Personality System (SSPS), a neuropsychological approach to discovering and developing one’s full potential.
Anne is a prolific and frequently cited writer on a broad range of topics on organizational dysfunction, behavior, emotional intelligence, personality type, and their impact on the workplace. Before developing the SSPS, she authored two distinct book series based on Jung’s theory of Psychological Type to support work with the MBTI. Anne’s books include the Brain-based Behavioral Interview Guide and over 100 books for use with the SSPS and MBTI, including Who Are You Meant to Be?, Power Past the Imposter Syndrome, and So, You Think You Can Lead?
Anne’s work over the last decade includes facilitating programs for leaders and managers on leadership and management foundation skills and competencies. With a background in mental health, she is a facilitator of the Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction Program. She also offers programs for leaders looking to develop skills for creating psychological safety, mental health and resilience in their people and organizations. Her YouTube and Dismantling Dysfunction Podcast channels are a testament to her ability to blend psychology, leadership, and organizational behavior, drawing from a wealth of stories to illustrate client experiences.
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