Succeeding Even When You Weren’t the Top Pick
GCG Leadership Development Team

Imposter syndrome is a familiar experience for those in leadership positions, especially when stepping into a role that you weren’t initially chosen for. This can intensify feelings of self-doubt, but it’s crucial to remember that you’re in the position now, and you have the opportunity to prove your worth. In this article, we’ll delve into six actionable strategies to help you master your new role and overcome imposter syndrome, even when you weren’t the first choice.

1. Embrace confidence and project positivity

Building confidence is essential for navigating situations when you aren’t the first choice. When communicating with your new manager, other key stakeholders, and team members, ensure that you project an air of confidence and positivity. Develop your non-verbal communication skills, such as maintaining eye contact, adopting an open stance, and using a firm voice when speaking.

As you focus on building your confidence, stay mindful of your self-talk and replace negative thoughts with positive affirmations. Remind yourself of what you bring to your new position and focus on your achievements and unique skill set.

2. Identify and address skill gaps

With the knowledge that you weren’t initially the preferred candidate, it’s essential to explore the reasons behind that decision. Use that clarity and transparency to your advantage by initiating candid conversations with your new manager and key decision-makers from the hiring process.

Ask open-ended questions about the strengths of the top candidate and where they perceived you were lacking. This information will allow you to better understand and address any skill gaps. By acknowledging these gaps and creating a targeted action plan to overcome them, you will be better positioned to succeed in your new role.

3. Apply new insights right away

When gathering constructive feedback from managers and team members, challenge yourself to implement those insights immediately. Proactively address the concerns raised in conversations, and consider seeking external resources, such as taking relevant courses or finding a mentor, to help you improve your skills.

By demonstrating the willingness to learn, adapt, and overcome perceived weaknesses, you’ll establish yourself as a committed and capable leader.

4. Encourage open communication and differing opinions

Creating an environment where team members feel comfortable sharing their opinions, even when they oppose yours, is crucial for fostering innovation and better decision-making. To do so, build a culture of open communication that welcomes a diversity of perspectives, and be receptive to engaging in constructive debates.

This approach will not only quieten any lingering doubts about your leadership capabilities but also help move the team forward in a more inclusive and collaborative manner.

5. Network and build relationships with peers

In a leadership position, networking becomes increasingly important for career progression. In your new role, take the time to establish strong connections with your peers and reinforce existing relationships. Set up one-to-one meetings as soon as possible to introduce yourself in the context of your new position, and collaborate on shared strategic objectives.

By building strong connections within the organization, you will create a solid support network that will be invaluable as you navigate your new role.

6. Develop a strong dynamic with your direct reports

Managing your former peers can be a unique challenge. Acknowledge the adjusted dynamic, create a clear and confident leadership philosophy, and establish mutual expectations for how to work together.

Moving forward, have one-to-one meetings with your direct reports to discuss their strengths, areas for improvement and career aspirations. This provides an opportunity to reinforce your position as their leader while showing that you genuinely care about their growth and development.

By developing a healthy and open rapport, you will establish a conducive environment for teamwork and collaboration while making it clear that you are committed to leading everyone towards collective success.

In Summary

While you may not have been the first choice for your new leadership role, the opportunity is now yours to demonstrate just how capable you are. By implementing these six strategies, you can silence any feelings of imposter syndrome, build confidence, and excel in your new position.

Overcoming imposter syndrome requires understanding the emotions driving it and implementing effective strategies to transform self-doubt into opportunities for personal growth. Leadership coaching can offer a valuable resource for leaders seeking to combat imposter syndrome. For leaders who want to become coaches or coaches looking to enhance their leadership coaching skills, Global Coaching Group (GCG) provides a comprehensive leadership coaching certification program.

GCG’s internationally acclaimed coaching tools and resources can help you improve your coaching proficiency and empower you to guide others through their imposter syndrome battles more effectively. By pursuing a GCG certification, you can join a prestigious global network of over 4,000 leadership coaches who can support you throughout your journey.

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