This week, Jodi and Eliot interview Tamsen Webster about when Imposter Syndrome shows up in organizations.
Why is that important for business?
Imposter Syndrome is usually an issue with individuals: perfectly accomplished people who are worried about being “found out” as not expert enough, or just faking it. But organizations are just communities of people, and the neuroses and insecurities of those individuals often get embedded at an organization level. Imposter Syndrome can be deep-seated, even in large, established, and respected organizations.
This is why branding and marketing exist. At some level, as an organization, you understand there is something valuable in what you have. So you start to put it out into the marketplace. But at some point, some organizations just don’t have faith in what they can truly offer.
No matter who we are, whether we are an individual or an organization, we think differentiation comes down to characteristics. But differentiation is actually the product of our decisions. If you can go back and re-create those decisions, then you can reveal to yourself exactly what you do differently.
One of the hallmarks of an institution suffering from Imposter Syndrome is the degree to which they are using other organizations as the benchmark for how they want to represent themselves. Competing on price, feeling like no one gets you, trying to differentiate on the slight variances on commodity product or service. These are all signs that your organization is suffering from Imposter Syndrome.
The answer is usually simple, and if we could just see what other people see, we could see what is truly different about us. It is the Curse of Knowledge: once you know something, you cannot imagine what it was like not to know it. People have to see the backstory and see how you became this thing. You need to put yourself in the position of seeing yourself with fresh eyes and ask the questions to see objectively. Then the Curse of Knowledge becomes the Blessing of Knowledge.
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