Today is a celebration of those who identify as women.
However, it’s often the case, or the perception, that women need to emulate men to succeed. I am using historical stereotypes and I hope the world has moved on but research has shown that adopting typically masculine traits of confidence, arrogance and aggression, often achieve success.
I’ve presented on Imposter Syndrome with a female colleague and good friend - both of us suffering from the ‘syndrome’. She recently sent me an article that resonated with me - stop telling women that they have imposter syndrome. It said that employees who can’t (or won’t) conform to masculine-biased social styles are told they have imposter syndrome and by implication don’t have the confidence to succeed.
I’ve been told that my style is quite feminine and I don't feel that I have compromised the way I am to be successful. Yet it’s hard to know whether I would have had greater success if I hadn’t felt, or been made to feel, an ‘imposter’, and had adopted masculine traits.
Even now, as a Director in Digital & Technology, I have found myself in situations where I have been viewed as the junior in the room. My preferred approach is to be collaborative and authentic but equally, I have learned that it is ok to be dominant when necessary. Taking a difficult decision as a leader, which some people may not like, is ok, and doesn’t mean you are aggressive - just decisive. This is why I #ChooseToChallenge ‘don’t compromise for anyone’.
As we are all acutely aware, Groupthink can lead to sub-optimal outcomes and it's much better to have mixed views around the table. So, my advice is don’t change your style - the challenge is less that we provide support for those individuals who feel 'imposters', and more that the onus is on all of us to build a culture which does not make anyone feel that way.