Imposter Syndrome Stunting Growth of UK Businesses

New study finds almost 1-in-3 Brits have feelings of imposter syndrome which make it hard for them to lead their teams effectively.

Self-Doubt Slowing Down Growth

Mental Health Awareness Week has arrived in the UK, it is a crucial time to address the various challenges that Britons face and to understand: what is the state of Britain’s mental health in 2022. A landmark study commissioned by Trachet – a business advisory firm helping entrepreneurs accelerate growth – has unveiled a workforce riddled in self-doubt, with 34% of Brits stating they often feel tired, helpless, or lonely in the world of work due to their workload. This comes at a time when the UK is facing the worst cost-of-living crisis for 30 years, with business leaders and employees feeling more pressure than ever to perform at work. The report entitled “From Burnout to Earnout”, found that nearly 1-in-3 Brits (30%) are suffering from imposter syndrome, which is hindering their ability to run their businesses effectively. This phenomenon is experienced equally by men and women and frequently coexists with depression and anxiety, according to Healthline.

Imposter Syndrome Increasingly More Common

 Imposter syndrome is more common than many realise, with the International Journal of Behavioural Science stating that 70% of people will experience it at some point in their lives. Trachet’s study found it to be more common among Millennials, as 40% state they have feelings of imposter syndrome in the workplace compared to a significantly lower 18% amongst Generation X.  According to the Harvard Business Review, imposter syndrome can result in a lack of honest conversation, silo thinking and lack of ownership, which can lead to isolation. The study commissioned by Trachet found that 34% of business leaders find that in running their business, they have no one to support them, they do all key tasks alone and that disconnects them from their passion. Through their overwhelming body of data, Trachet’s report also suggests that self-doubt can be one of the major factors leading to burnout – an occupational phenomenon found to be experienced by 62% of all business leaders in the UK.  However, there is a growing body of research suggesting that imposter syndrome could also have some positive effects on those experiencing it. Research published in the Academy of Management Journal found that employees with imposter syndrome were rated as having better interpersonal skills than more confident peers and were considered just as competent. Although it may help to keep egos in the workplace in check and aid some people in building relationships, findings from Trachet’s study clearly show it to be a predominantly negative phenomenon. Claire Trachet CEO and Founder of Trachet explains the different barriers that imposter syndrome and self-doubt can have on scaling a business: “The issue with impostor syndrome is that it gives way to reduced self-esteem – and ultimately to failure. Having trouble internalizing competence and talent has caused many to sabotage success. Start-up founders and entrepreneurs – as expected so early on – are heavily invested in the day-to-day operations of their business, they therefore tend to isolate themselves while trying to resolve issues, creating a situation where it becomes increasingly difficult to be transparent with their stakeholders, ultimately leading to burnout. “Burnout is a significant barrier that inhibits businesses from growing effectively. With proper support and guidance this can be corrected by redirecting imposter syndrome as a way to challenge oneself and keep egos in check, whilst preserving the mental health of the leaders of the business and their teams.”