Weekend Poll Results: Confidence and Imposter Syndrome

With thanks to all who participated in my latest Weekend Poll, here are your responses to my question … How confident are you in your career?

 A majority of you have high levels of confidence

… and that certainly helps, given that you represent your principals and organisations. Speaking of your bosses, having a healthy level of self-confidence helps you hold your own when working with high achievers.

56% of respondents gave themselves a rating of 4 or 5 out of 5, with 5 being the highest possible rating. 13% of respondents rated their confidence at 2 or lower out of five, and one noted that significant workplace restructuring over a period of three years has had an impact.

About Imposter Syndrome

The term was new to me a year or two ago, and it was also new to 38% of respondents to this Weekend Poll. Again, the term is used to describe a sensation that one is not skilled or accomplished so much as lucky … or a fraud. People in this situation can feel (despite evidence to the contrary) that their achievements are the result of timing, luck or almost anything to do with their capabilities.

Have a look at the data, below, to see what percentage of people identified as dealing with this challenge, whether occasionally or on a more regular basis.


What impacts your confidence in the workplace?

Let’s get the negative impacts out of the way first. In descending order, readers most frequently mentioned their own mistakes, followed by their principal/boss and then their colleagues.

When I asked about factors that are most likely to have a positive impact on their confidence in the office, 43% of you said they don’t let the factors I’d identified have an impact on them. However, more than a quarter of you said your principal or boss is most likely to have a positive impact on your confidence, followed by positive performance reviews.


You’re a generous group

I say that because of the number of comments readers offered when I asked you to describe the measures you take to maintain or rebuild a healthy level of confidence. These comments, contained below, may provide inspiration as well as confidence to you should you encounter a rough patch in your career.


On a scale of 1 (low confidence) to 5, how confident are you in your career?

  • 1 (my confidence is low): 3% of respondents
  • 2: 10% of respondents
  • 3: 31% of respondents
  • 4: 26% of respondents
  • 5 (I’m very confident): 30% of respondents
  • One reader commented, “Having gone through significant restructuring in the last 3 years, confidence (and my post) have taken a real battering. Confidence will take a while to re-build unfortunately.”


Before reading this article, were you familiar with the term, “Imposter Syndrome”?

  • Yes: 62% of respondents
  • No: 38% of respondents


Do you think of yourself as dealing with Imposter Syndrome? 

  • Occasionally: 48% of respondents, including an early respondent who selected “Other” and wrote, “sometimes”
  • Yes: 26% of respondents
  • No: 26% of respondents


Which of the following is most likely to have a NEGATIVE impact on your confidence at work?

  • 49% of respondents: Mistakes I make
  • 19% of respondents: My principal/boss
  • 19% of respondents: Other colleagues
  • 7% of respondents: Performance reviews
  • 5% of respondents: n/a; I don’t let these factors impact my confidence
  • 1% of respondents selected “Other”. One reader commented, “Saying something that people do not agree with”.


Which of the following is most likely to have a POSITIVE impact on your confidence at work?

  • 43% of respondents: n/a; I don’t let these factors impact my confidence
  • 26% of respondents: My principal/boss
  • 19% of respondents: Positive performance reviews
  • 10% of respondents: Other colleagues
  • 2% of respondents selected “Other”. People offered comments as follows.
    • Affirmations; acknowledgements; opportunities at work; not being treated as invaluable
    • Educating myself


Lastly, I asked What measures do you take to maintain or rebuild a healthy level of confidence? I asked, and you answered! Here’s a long list of strategies that readers offered.

  • I ask for feedback from my stakeholders. They hold up the mirror for me to see whether I’m on the right track or not. Making mistakes is the best way to learn – learning increases our confidence and allows us to get better and better in whatever we want to achieve. Focus on your strengths and you will grow your confidence.
  • Professional development
  • Networking with peers / positive discussions with peers
  • If my confidence is knocked by an external source, I get my team mates to help me find perspective in the situation, but the external validation of good feedback is key. Alternatively, if it is a mistake I make, I try and future proof the issue and take time to do something I am good at, like dance, to help restore my confidence.
  • Take an active part in meetings, listen/comment when others raise issues
  • Weekly, I evaluate where I have grown
  • CPD (continuing professional development). Reading; keeping myself updated
  • I regularly update my list of achievements. (It’s) good for performance review and reflection.
  • I have daily mantras that I repeat to myself as my day gets started.
  • I build on CPD and network as much as possible.
  • Learning – I will research how to do something.
  • I try to continually upskill and develop so I’m on top of changing developments
  • I have a “brag box” – a subfolder in my inbox.
  • Keep studying and reading and networking
  • Time + patience + continuous improvement through personal professional development
  • Time away from work with IAAP events. It reminds me that I’m successful.
  • Remind myself of all the stuff I have achieved so far
  • Communication, self-care, regular checking in with myself (and boss); objectives
  • Take a step back, reflect and make time for some mindfulness
  • Read, read, read! Participate in learning opportunities; ask for guidance.
  • Don’t dwell (on negative things) and move on from negative things
  • Continuous professional development and ongoing skill building with courses, books
  • Keep a record of what I’ve accomplished
  • Educating myself to know more and to be more confident in what I do
  • Feedback from others
  • I look at every “mis=step” as a learning opportunity.
  • Invest in my own professional growth
  • I research things to gain knowledge to improve my performance.
  • Positive affirmations
  • Knowing that I really do know my job and know what I am doing.
  • I take time to rejuvenate and refocus.
  • I make sure that the mistake is a learning opportunity.
  • Address any negativity ASAP
  • Reminding myself of my accomplishments
  • At the end of the day I feel good about what I’ve accomplished
  • Gain insights from the industry, social media and external sources to benchmark
  • I take time to review my learning to train to fill gaps or assess errors
  • At the moment, taking it day by day. Not sure where to start
  • Part of an EA Network; keeping up to date with needs of our profession, training
  • To continue with training
  • Professional development, networking with peers, positive discussions with peers

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