Imposter syndrome

Written by Debbie Liles on 13 September 2016

Hi, I am looking for recommendations on reading and resources for this fascinating topic. In the past I have been involved in the womens spring board programme run by BT, but want to catch up on all the latest thinking. I would also be interested in chatting with any of you who have run these types of workshops just to bounce around a few ideas.

All the best, Debbie

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Hilary Cooke

Submitted on 14 September, 2016 - 18:43

Hi Debbie

If you can ping me your email I have a copy of an HBR article by Manfred Kets de Vries (2005) on the dangers of feeling like a fake and the concept of the neurotic imposter - if you don't have it already. Not "latest" exactly as it's 10 years on, but might be of interest...

Also Amy Cuddy on Ted Talks does some interesting stuff on faking it (in a positive way) through body language.

And - as you caught me in a mammoth frenzy of displacement activity - I have made the most of my last few weeks of having access to a university library system and dug out these: 

P Clance, S ImesThe imposter phenomenon in high achieving women: dynamics and therapeutic intervention Psychother Theor Res Prac, 15 (1978), pp. 241–247

Catherine Robinson Walker - Nurse Leader, v9 n4 (201108):

Leadership, risk and the imposter syndrome :Pedler M:Action Learning: Research and Practice, v8 n2 (2011 07 01): 89-91​

Let me know if you want help to access them

Hope it helps





Submitted on 15 September, 2016 - 11:44

Thanks, it all sounds great, as some one who has felt like this myself I feel excited to have the potential to do some work around this area. My email is Thank you



Submitted on 14 November, 2016 - 16:11

Thank you so much for taking the time to respond, the project never came off but I thoroughly enjoyed doing the research. Thanks again Debbie



Submitted on 15 September, 2016 - 20:24

Not sure if this is the sort of thing you're after Debbie, so apologies if it's a little wide of the mark...

A few years back there was a TV series called 'Faking it'.  The format was basically that they took someone and trained them in a couple of weeks to be the antithesis of what they are normally.  And then put them with a number of others who are highly experienced in that field, asked them to perform (what ever it is they were trained to do), and a panel of experts tried to pick out the one that was 'Faking it'.  It was brilliant!

My favourite episode (not surprisingly as my focus is sales training & consultancy!) was the vicar from the West Country who was trained to be a second hand car salesman in Essex.  And he 'Faked it' successfully!  The 'experts' wrongly picked out real car salesmen as the fakers!!

And then there was the girl who cleaned the toilets on the cross channel ferries... who trained to skipper an ocean going racing yacht.  And came placed in the round Isle of Wight race!

And then there was the tough Royal Naval officer who trained to be a drag artist.

Another favourite was the shy cello artist, who was trained to be a DJ in Ibiza.  She not only faked it, but was so successful that she changed careers!

Not much on YouTube, but you can purchase episodes via Channel 4 (only a few pounds)

Worth watching for a bit of amusement, if not for your project!

Good  fortune...


Submitted on 17 November, 2016 - 16:47

Thanks Tim for awakening a memory.  I loved 'Faking It' as a TV concept and for the inspiration and confidence it gave those taking part to realise their potential with sometimes life changing effects on their choice of future career.  I remember the decorator who became an artist and successfully exhibited.  As a lover of feel good telly it was a favourite and although not research based was a good inspiration. 

I'm not plugged into the research side of this Debbie but I am interested in how our self limiting beliefs, experience of trying and failing at new things and the impact of past experience on future behaviour plays out for men and particular women.  It's something I see in my coaching work and interim work.  If I can help at all, I'd be delighted to.