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How Can You Turn Self Doubt Into Success?

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Sowmini sk is a Product Leader and an Alumnus of Exec. MBA in Product Leadership at the Institute of Product Leadership & CMR University. This article is published with the author’s permission and was first published on womensweb

Navigating self-doubt at work? Learn tips to boost confidence, celebrate wins, and support peers. Let’s conquer impostor feelings together.

How Can You Turn Self Doubt Into Success?

You are a powerful female leader, respected for your leadership and recognized for your expertise across the organization. But deep inside, you feel your growth is purely by chance and that you are not as competent as others. You feel you do not deserve this status or recognition.

Does this ring a bell? Sounds like a page out of your life?

This stark contrast between external reality and your own perception is a classic case of Impostor syndrome. Women with impostor syndrome are overly critical of their performance and are constantly looking for external validation.

It is common to feel a sense of doubt when starting a new role or opportunity. Self-doubt and self-criticism aren’t qualities unique to women. Other genders also go through these, but it is more prevalent in women, especially those who belong to underrepresented communities.

As per the KPMG study, in 2022, 75% of female executives across industries have experienced impostor syndrome in their careers.

Why do women leaders struggle the most with impostor syndrome?

Impostor syndrome is doubting your abilities and feeling undeserving of success. Overcoming it involves self-affirmation, embracing achievements, and fostering a supportive environment.

1. Lack of role models

The most familiar style of leadership in many corporations is the powerful, outspoken, masculine leader radiating confidence and competence. Strong female leaders are still a minority in most organizations. Hence, women have very few role models they can look up to.

2. Never miss real stories from India’s women.

This leads to a fear of walking down a new path on their own, accompanied by a fear of standing out and being judged for it. This amplifies the insecurity in them and makes them withdraw into safer zones.

3. Belief system

Despite outstanding academic and professional accomplishments, women consistently underestimate their abilities and worth. This is due to societal and cultural norms and conditioning over the years.

Girls, in their formative years, are encouraged to underplay their skills and practice humility. They develop the fear of standing out in a crowd or speaking up for themselves early on in their lives.

4. Bias and stereotyping

Impostor syndrome may be a universal problem. But systemic sexism has a major role to play in fuelling this condition. If a woman has ideas or points to make in a conversation but never gets the chance to voice her ideas or her ideas are ignored, it leads her to doubt her skills, which snowballs into questions of self-worth and dignity.

Gender stereotyping has a far-lasting impact on a woman’s professional growth than one can contemplate.

How to deal with Impostor syndrome?

How Can You Turn Self Doubt Into Success?

It is crucial for women to know that they are not alone in this struggle. Millions of women worldwide across a spectrum of professions, educational qualifications, ages, races, and ethnic and cultural backgrounds have experienced impostor syndrome in their lives.

7 Ways you can overcome self-doubt

1. Shut down all negative self-talk. If people around you have belief in your abilities and are acknowledging your accomplishments, it is high time you believe in yourself.

2. Accept all opportunities that come your way without second thoughts. Figuring out the skills and bandwidth to take up the task is step #2.

3. Do not shy away from expressing your thoughts and opinions in large forums. Being visible and being heard makes a huge difference.

4. Accept appreciation wholeheartedly; do not tell the other person that you don’t deserve it.

5. Let go of the perfectionist mindset. Nothing will ever be perfect; you just need to learn from the roadblocks and keep marching ahead.

6. Join or build a support network. IAmRemarkable movement by Google is one such community that fosters self-promotion and empowerment of women.

7. Highlight achievements and celebrate wins, big and small. Maintain an accomplishments journal to constantly remind yourself how remarkable you are.


There is a lot of focus on advising women on how to fix this problem. Rather than telling women impostor syndrome is caused by a lack of confidence, we need to analyse and improve the ecosystem that we inhabit.

The answer to overcoming impostor syndrome is not to fix individuals, but to create an environment that fosters diverse leadership styles and one where racial, ethnic, and gender identities are respected and given equal opportunities.

Organizations must create a culture in the workplace that empowers women and addresses systemic bias and exclusion. Only by doing so can we reduce the experiences that culminate in the so-called impostor syndrome and help channel self-doubt into positive motivation.

Let’s join hands to foster a healthy work culture and enable more women leaders to break the proverbial glass ceiling!

Originally published at

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