Many clients talk about feeling like they are an imposter or a phoney. They might say that they’re lucky to be where they are whilst getting increasingly stressed with worry and self-doubt.
We also notice how some coaches will label themselves as having ‘imposter syndrome’ or being afraid ‘to be found’. So, what are some of the considerations that us coaches need to be aware of when supporting these individuals (or ourselves!) navigate these thoughts?
Joseph Grech, Course Leader on our Coach Training Programmes and PCC Coach tells us a bit more.
Explore the language used
“The first thing that I do when supporting a client who uses such language when referring to themselves is help them to pause. Many times clients use words and phrases that they might have not fully thought through. And then suddenly, they start absorbing that label, believing it themselves.
I had a client who kept repeating that they were a phoney. But then, when I asked them to define what that actually meant they didn’t really know. They even had to pull out their phone and google it!
The words that we attach to ourselves can be very powerful to shape how we feel and the actions that we take in life.”
Everyone can experience these feelings
“The other thing to notice is that everyone to a degree would get feelings of self-doubt, lack of confidence and fear about being ‘found out’. Although I do not like using the phrase ‘imposter syndrome’, it is key to bear in mind that everyone has these feelings. Supporting your client understand that; that they are not unique in this, that senior leaders and their colleagues might feel the same can be reassuring and healing in itself.”
These feelings show that you care
“Typically these feelings that people experience indicate that we care about something. Think about it, if we didn’t care we probably wouldn’t doubt ourselves. We doubt ourselves because we care! Research also shows this, that most people who talk about imposter syndrome are usually experiencing situations that are fairly new and that they actually care about.
In a coaching session you can explore what these feelings might be telling the client about their values, or what’s their positive intent.”
Opening up to Acceptance
“At times, a client can feel progress just by realising why they’re feeling in a particular way. They’re understanding the feeling (and not necessarily changing it!) Noticing these feelings rather fighting them is empowering in itself. As a coach you can support people explore what it is that they control or influence and what ultimately is outside of this zone. This slight reframing of perspective gives people courage and a new way how to view their situation.”
We have supported many coaches obtain their ICF Credentials through our highly reviewed ICF Diploma in Integrative Coaching. Coaches have shared how we have helped not only their development into ICF Coaches but also supported them explore, discover and grow their own self-awareness bringing a truly holistic development.