Brexit was going to be a piece of cake, Britain’s best minds assured us. “I don’t find it very difficult … to do a free trade agreement very quickly,” Boris Johnson was enraged. “The day after we vote to leave, we have all the cards and we can choose the path we want,” said Michael Gove. “The free trade agreement that we will have to make with the European Union should be one of the easiest in the history of mankind,” promised Liam Fox. It didn’t turn out exactly like that, did it?
The British government has a trust problem. That is, the people who run it are much more confident than they are competent. There is no situation in which they seem to feel underqualified; they have never encountered a problem that they are not convinced they can solve. They are totally and utterly lacking in something that afflicts many mere mortals: the imposter syndrome.
Imposter syndrome, a term used to describe unwarranted feelings of inadequacy, is often talked about as a bad thing. But a new study of a Wharton researcher You have discovered that it can be positive. People who report impostor syndrome feelings tend to be better at listening and collaborating; they work harder for prove your worth. This makes sense: if you recognize that you don’t know everything, you are more likely to listen to others and consider their decisions carefully.
When it comes to imposter syndrome (and it has become a very fashionable topic of discussion), it is often in relation to women. After all, it’s helpful to blame the lack of women at the top on a lack of confidence rather than the annoying institutionalized sexism. Much of the leadership advice given to women in recent years has focused on how to overcome doubts and be more assertive. Make a power pose! Demand a raise! Act like a man!
You may have seen a frequently cited (but completely speculative) statistic That shows men apply for a job when they only meet 60% of the requirements, but women apply only if they meet all of them. That statistics have been used tell women that they should have more faith in themselves; that they should, to use the popular phrase, “channel the mediocre white confidence”.
However, wouldn’t it be more helpful to encourage mediocre men to aspire to the competition of a middle-aged woman who is overqualified and underpaid? The last thing the world needs is more leaders trying to fake it until they make it.
The idea that women just need more confidence to get ahead is maddening, not only because it ignores the structural issues holding them back, but also because women tend to be better leaders. because we are not overly confident. An analysis of thousands of performance reviews showed that women outperformed men in 17 of the 19 capacities that differentiate excellent from average or poor leaders. But even though women scored better, they didn’t rate as high as men until the age of 40.
“It is possible that these lower levels of trust at a younger age can motivate women to take more initiative, be more resilient, and be more receptive to feedback from others, which in turn makes them more effective leaders at long term, “the researchers noted. .
Obviously, there is a balance here; Doubting yourself too much is not a good thing. But wouldn’t it be refreshing if the most powerful people admitted that they don’t have all the answers? Take Jacinda Ardern, for example. in a December 2020 interviewArdern said she struggles with impostor syndrome, but tries to channel it constructively. “Some of the people I admire the most have that shyness and that slight lack of confidence,” Ardern said. When she begins to doubt herself, she asks why. “Does that mean I need to do a little more preparation? Do I need to think more about my decision making?” What I would give for Boris Johnson and company to ask those questions.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism