future proof your career leadership training Imposter syndrome

The Imposter Syndrome: How To Combat Self-Doubt For Career Advancement

The term ‘imposter syndrome’ has been in use since 1978 when it was introduced by psychologists Suzanne Imes and Pauline Rose Clance. Both of whom struggled with self-doubt despite their obvious success in their chosen field. It was this which led them to embark on a study program of other successful women similarly afflicted by self-doubt.

The American National Institute of Health describes imposter syndrome as ‘a behavioural health phenomenon described as doubt of intellect, skills or accomplishments among high-achieving individuals.’

Self-doubt, feeling like a fraud and subsequent fear of failure can affect anyone in any field. It can happen at any stage of their career.

Combating self-doubt in order to advance your career involves a combination of strategies. These are aimed at building self-confidence, gaining clarity and then taking action.

Identify the reason for imposter syndrome

What triggers your self-doubt? Is it the fear of failure or feeling not good enough in comparison with others? When you understand the root cause you can begin to address the problem.

Challenge negative thoughts

When self-doubt creeps in, challenge this with evidence-based reasoning. Ask yourself if you have any actual reason or evidence to support this feeling or if they’re based on past experiences or assumptions.

Be kind to yourself

Acknowledge that everyone experiences self-doubt at some point. Even leader Elon Musk has admitted to suffering from self-doubt over public speaking. Give yourself a break when things get a bit challenging. Focus on your strengths and talents and leverage them throughout your career. Keep reminding yourself of past successes and times when you’ve overcome challenges – keep a written record of these.

Continuous learning

Invest in your personal and professional development through ongoing learning and skill-building activities. The more you learn the more confident you’ll become in your abilities.

Set realistic goals

Break down your career goals into small, achievable steps and celebrate each time you achieve a new milestone. Keep a record of your progress to help build confidence and block imposter syndrome. Visualise yourself achieving all your career goals and imagine how you will feel. This helps to reinforce positive thinking.

Seek feedback from supportive people

Ask for feedback from trusted colleagues, mentors or supervisors. Constructive feedback can provide you with valuable insights and help you recognise where your strengths and talents lay. Surround yourself with supportive people who believe in you and encourage you in your career goals. Avoid those who would undermine your confidence or feed your self-doubt.

Take positive action against imposter syndrome

Sometimes the best way to combat self-doubt and power through your career is to take action despite those niggling feelings. Break out of your comfort zone and take calculated risks. Once you have done this for the first time your confidence will get a massive boost and you will find it becomes easier and less nerve-wracking to keep taking those small steps forward. Don’t be afraid to sometimes seek support from a mentor as you advance in your career.

Overcoming self-doubt is an ongoing process so be patient and keep taking those small steps to greater self-confidence.

Growth mindset leaderships

Leaderships That Really Worked

There are quite a few examples of how leaders have been successful in their chosen fields. However, some leaderships have undoubtedly been more spectacularly successful than others. Often, this is down to how they lead and how they treat the people who work for them.

Whether setting up mentoring schemes – proven to work well in a wide variety of industries – as we know only too well here at EL Mentoring, or driving people to effect change, the right leaderships can change fortunes and change the world.

Successful leaders exhibit a combination of strategies and qualities. Here are a few examples of outstanding leadership styles and individuals who are widely recognised as being the best.

Elon Musk

The CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, Elon Musk is often considered to be eccentric and combative. He is also one of the world’s most devisive leaders. However, his innovative style of leadership shows a man unafraid to take risks and push boundaries in the pursuit of his own personal vision for the future. He has the ability to inspire and lead in a highly competitive market. This way, he can ensure his status as an industry leader in the field of electric vehicles and increasingly artificial intelligence.

Steve Jobs

The co-founder of Apple Inc was a charismatic leader. He was known for a ferocious work ethic and his ability to inspire and motivate his team to achieve groundbreaking, indeed world-leading innovations in the technology industry. His charisma, single-mindedness and attention to detail became the rock on which the success of his company grew.

Angela Merkel                                                                                                                 

Not a business leader but a highly effective one nevertheless. The former German Chancellor was known for her adaptive leadership style. It helped her successfully navigate the challenges posed by the European economic and refugee crises. She is widely respected among the German people and world leaders. Her ability to adapt to changing circumstances contributed to a long and successful political career.

Sheryl Sandberg

She was the Chief Operating Officer at Facebook from 2008 to 2022. She then, after a stint at Google, moved on to found her own enterprise Leanin.org. This was based on her recipe for success at work and in life. Her leaderships encompassed high expectations and encouragement of the people around her to reach goals. She is known for praising those who do good work. Plus, she takes steps to work out an individual’s talents, pushing them to improve.

Jeff Bezos

The founder of Amazon, which started out as an online bookstore. Bezos has turned his company into the world’s biggest online seller. He is known as a transformational, decisive but often autocratic leader. This is due to his high standards and tendency towards micromanaging. Through his analytical thinking and calculated risk-taking style he has made his company successful. He has done so by splitting his workforce into small teams. They are then trusted to complete required tasks. He is also focussed on improving communication to create a healthy but driven competitive environment among employees.

Companies and businesses can come and go, however it is clear that the key to lasting success is great leadership. This means that can adapt and innovate when required to best suit the needs of their teams and achieve their goals.

Reverse Mentorship – Can Learning From Less Experienced Leaders Work?

Mentoring – passing on knowledge and skills to newer or less experienced colleagues – has been around for decades. It has served businesses well in terms of helping colleagues learn the ropes. Now a new, dynamic approach to mentoring has turned this idea on its head. Reverse mentorship is the innovative practice bringing mutual benefits at all levels.

The Evolution of Mentorship

Mentoring in its traditional form is the exchange of ideas and transfer of knowledge and  experiences between colleagues, the mentor and mentee. The mentor is typically someone more experienced and often older than the one who is learning i.e. the mentee. Mentoring would traditionally focus on tailored guidance and learning from experience rather than through book learning or attending lectures. Reverse mentoring has come about because of rapidly advancing technology and working practices typically embraced by younger people necessitating a fundamental change in expectations. Cross-generational collaboration emphasises the benefits of continuous learning for all employees whether junior or senior.

Understanding Reverse Mentorship

The definition of reverse mentorship is simply one individual who is considered less  experienced or younger who shares knowledge and skills with a more experienced or older individual. An example could be a student doctor mentoring a more senior doctor on new technology or practices. This could be done in order to enhance the care of patients or improve data recording.  Reverse mentoring can also be useful in helping directors or senior leaders, who often miss out on what is actually happening within their organisation.

This especially benefits those who have a separate working environment from the junior workforce to understand what is happening throughout the business. It gives them ground-up information from someonel with a greater insight in shop-floor practices or work-based conflicts, so helping to facilitate necessary changes in organisational practices. Modern mentorship is based more on the idea of the reciprocal fostering of growth between parties rather than on seniority or experience.

Breaking Down Generational Barriers 

The traditional idea of older individuals being the source of superior and unchallenged knowledge and junior colleagues being somehow inferior is thankfully rapidly disappearing. Now, enlightened individuals have ann understanding of how younger people or new joiners can bring with them a wealth of knowledge and skill sets which benefit an organisation. A rapidly-evolving use of reverse mentoring is gaining traction in providing education at all levels around the challenges faced by minority groups. This can help to improve diversity and inclusion within workplaces. For example, a reverse mentor who is part of group such as BAME or LGBTQ+ can provide a unique understanding of the challenges and how to overcome them. 

Benefits of Reverse Mentorship

Reverse mentoring is proving to have big impacts across all kinds of organisations in opening up channels between the generations. It helps to share learning, knowledge and tech-savvy skills. Plus, gives those who previously wouldn’t have had any input the opportunity to teach and advance themselves alongside the chance to interact with senior or executive individuals they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to reach. Those more senior or previously more ‘knowledgeable’ benefit from gaining valuable insights into emerging trends and ideas as well as new skills. Reverse mentoring also promotes transparency and greater freedom at all levels to put forward ideas.


Leaders, no matter how senior can always benefit from the opportunity to learn and grow. Plus, a culture of continuous learning and mutual collaboration within a workforce can become a powerful ally for success. Reverse mentoring can be effective in gaining insights and awareness of challenges facing minority sections of an organisation and into how an organisation is progressing. Knowledge equals power equals success.

Reverse mentorship
Imposter syndrome virtual business mentoring failure pillars of mentorship

Building the 5 pillars of mentorship

Mentoring is a great option for those who are looking to promote cultural and commercial growth. It taps directly into and then inspires the further development and sharing of relevant expertise and experience that can already exist in an organisation. Those companies who invest in mentoring find that they see improvements in employee retention and satisfaction, interpersonal skills, communication skills and transfer of knowledge, amongst other benefits. Many mentors agree that there are 5 pillars of mentorship, so let’s take a look at them. 

The program is championed from the top

In this pillar, the mentoring program is championed by those in leadership positions within the company, they endorse and embrace it. They themselves have mentors, and they also mentor others. They also believe that mentoring is important for both personal and professional development. 

These individuals play an important role within the enterprise mentoring program and give their weight to:

  • ensuring the program is seen as a priority – they understand the benefits and want to share this
  • legitimise the program by lending a sense of respect to it. 
  • Being available for any key events and engaging with all employees during the program. They also speak out about ROI in the program.

The program is planned strategically

Good initiatives don’t just happen. They are carefully planned out and have measurable and specific outcomes. There should be a robust planning process to make certain that the effort and energy within the program is maintained over the years rather than fizzling out over a matter of months. This planning should also account for the seamless running of the program across the company. 

The program should be measured and defined

You need to work out what measures matter to your organisation. Any outcomes must be articulated clearly so that an ROI can be measured across the organisation. Some measures are calculable and empirical, whilst the rest will be anecdotal by nature. 

You need to have a system that will capture and then report on these measures to help refine the process whenever there are new participants in the program. This will help with regular reviews.

Training for participants

Mentoring programs often fail because it is believed that pairing a mentor and a mentee is enough. It is important to ensure that you provide introductory and then ongoing skill development to both parties. When they have the proper training, this gives everyone:

  • A message of commitment
  • A consistency of approach
  • A quality of delivery
  • Enhanced relational capability
  • Very clear expectations.

The program should be supported by processes and systems

Within the HR of many companies, you will find frameworks, processes and tools which can capture and then support employee development needs. These are things that can be used within any mentoring program in order to ensure that there is no isolation and that there is efficiency in the way individuals are processed and the program is deployed. 

The right tools, procedures and policies can assist in reducing cost and time within your program and help improve the mentorship experience.

diverse team of leaders Diversity mentoring

Exploring diversity in mentoring relationships

Within any organisation, mentoring is quickly emerging as an incredibly powerful way in which organisational diversity can be encouraged. This is particularly true where there is a need to create greater cross-group understanding whilst ensuring the minority and disadvantaged groups are supported. Unfortunately, mentoring between those groups that are rather unique comes with its own issues. 

Define the purpose of your mentoring program

It is important to be clear about the purpose of any program you set up. This is especially the case when it comes to “diversity” mentoring. If your program is simply to support a particular group, then it may be unclear exactly what is going on. 

Know your audience

The last thing you want is for your well intentioned leads to create unintentional insults. It is important that your mentoring program does not devalue the group it was hoping to support. Make sure you understand the perspective of those you want to support. 

Ensure your program is an opt in one

In order for a mentoring program to be successful it is essential that those involved want to be there. This is very important for a diversity mentoring program or a cross group one where you need individuals to listen to and understand varying different perspectives. 

Quality over quantity

Your program, no matter how well intentioned, should be limited with regards to the number of good mentors that you have available. It can be tempting to try to fit in any many diverse individuals as possible. However, if you don’t have the right ratios you will not be able to offer the quality of mentoring that you would like. 

Same or different groups?

There is a lot of discussion that looks at the values of having mentees and mentors from the same or different diversities. There are advantages to both. Within a group of like individuals, there is more likely to be great rapport and empathy. However, within different groups you are more like to find a greater degrees of cross-cultural understanding which may be more beneficial. Much of how you decide to do this will depend on the purpose you have already defined. 


Unfortunately, mentoring programs cannot just happen. It is important for everyone involved to receive training so that there is value to the mentoring that takes place. For diversity training, this means that everyone involved should be fully aware of all of the diversity issues that may come up. They must be able to foster a caring and sensitive approach to how they handle these issues. That way, you can ensure that the best results are created through the mentoring process. 

Acknowledge stereotyping

Finally, and possibly one of the biggest barriers in diversity mentoring, stereotyping can be a real issue. Within a same group, the sharing of these stereotypes may go unquestioned. This can be the case even though this can be the biggest barrier to success. It is important to assure that assumptions are not being made and that stereotypes are acknowledged and discussed. Additionally, mentors must have the training to discuss honestly the role that stereotypes have in terms of mentoring.

Imposter syndrome virtual business mentoring failure pillars of mentorship

Failure In Leadership: Is It Your Best Teacher?

Let’s face it: no one wants to feel that they have failed, but sometimes failure in leadership does teach valuable lessons that perhaps can only be learned when things don’t go as they should.

Failure gives growth opportunities, which benefits and shapes how we manage ourselves and lead others.

Failure as a lesson for the future – some key takeaways

  1. Don’t keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result.
  2. Understand that failure, while uncomfortable, allows you to raise your self-awareness.
  3. Failure provides opportunities to stop, take stock and reinvent.
  4. It improves flexibility of thinking, and those who learn from their failures will do better in the future, but only if they use what they learn productively.
  5. No one ever gets everything right all the time. Allow yourself the compassion you would show others, then move on.
  6. Don’t blame others or become a victim yourself. Spend time working on solutions based on what happened. Solutions and planning will help, but becoming stuck on apportioning blame won’t.

As a leader, you may feel expected always to be right and never fail, but it’s almost guaranteed at some point, something will not work out as you wish, and that could be through simple circumstances that you or your team had no control over. What will make you rise and shine is how you handle that failure. You have the perfect opportunity to learn, as do your team and your company. This is where leadership skills and learning how to build from failures are part of the coaching and mentoring services we offer here at EL Mentoring, helping you to grow as a leader.

Learning to tackle hurdles productively is vital to moving forward. Successful leaders are not those who always get it right. They are the people who work to handle the situation, move on and learn from it for the future.

Using failure to grow

Have you ever heard the phrase ‘change is the only constant’? This is something successful leaders understand. They realise that staying flexible will allow them to accept the need for change and be adaptable. This positivity helps them channel positive energy into finding solutions, rather than wallow in negativity that can quickly grow when things don’t go as planned. Your mindset as a leader will influence those around you. If you panic, they will panic, and that achieves very little. It’s okay to admit when you don’t have all the solutions, and asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It can open up a whole stream of ideas and innovative solutions from a broad spectrum of people, one of whom could be sitting on the perfect answer. 

Look forward. If you keep looking back, you will focus on the obstacles and forget to strive for outcomes. Watch, look and learn. Being prepared to take risks will show you how far you can go. Sometimes, ‘no risk’ will equal ‘no reward.’ as a successful leader, you must sometimes take a risk. Successful leadership is about getting it right, not being right.

Our last words

‘Don’t complain about failure’. Use the valuable lessons as a road to success.

home-office-couple Effective feedback

The Art of Effective Feedback

Feedback that is constructive can often be difficult to receive, and is just as difficult to deliver. Whilst research indicates that we want feedback, it also shows that we are not comfortable or not willing to deliver it. However the better the feedback that people receive the more successful an organisation can become.

Effective feedback is something that we need to practice. It is little wonder that constructive feedback is something of an art. When done properly, constructive criticism can help to offer clear expectations, a fresh perspective and also improve employee performance and morale. It can also reduce any conflict and toxicity that may exist in a team.

Be direct

The most effective way of delivering good constructive feedback is to do so in person. It is best not to be given in the written form. Delivering feedback to a person directly shows a level of respect for team members. When this is not possible there are alternatives. For example, zoom could be used as a form of face to face feedback delivery. The key point is that both parties should be able to see each other during any feedback session,

Be specific

One of the hallmarks of constructive criticism is being specific and offering actionable insights. A good employee wants to know what they are doing well in their job and what they could do to make their performance better it is the responsibility of the person giving the feedback to provide them with the tools with which they can do this stop

It also matters how feedback is timed whilst many busy managers may prefer to wait for an annual review to offer feedback it is in fact better for it to be done in real time when issues almost irrelevant. The context of timing is also important, to be truthful and stick to facts, many unfortunately turn to jokes as a way of trying to make negative feedback easier.

Focus not on people but on actions

Too often people are uncomfortable giving feedback because they feel it is personal and do not want to hurt someone’s feelings however not offering constructive feedback is avoiding conflict and this can undermine your team.

Good constructive feedback focuses on the product and not the individual with criticism never being personal. An employee who misses the deadline is not necessarily lazy incorrect work does not signify incompetence. Focus your efforts on actions rather than perceptions use the “I” technique, “I recommend,” “I believe” to underline this.

Offer solutions

A good leader is someone who focuses on solutions and can get to the heart of any constructive feedback. It is important to offer specific problem solving recommendations or examples that will help to improve things. The feedback that you give is not a call to action but the solution that you offer could be

Make it a conversation 

Empathy is important to good feedback; it is not just about you are telling someone what has gone wrong and giving them feedback it is also about listening to their feedback to you. There should always be a conversation involved in good constructive feedback.

choose a mentor leadership and trust

Leadership And Trust – The Basis Of A Successful Business

For a business to thrive and become successful, having an effective leader in place is critical. Whether that’s you or you have a leadership team in place, how they motivate, inspire and build trust will affect the success of your business. Gone are the days when leading with a rod of iron gets it done.

A strong business relies on trust in managers. Whether between leaders and team members or the business with clients and suppliers, you must work openly and honestly. That way, you can build valuable, lasting relationships to achieve sustainable success.

A lack of quality leadership and trust will eventually cause problems. It does not matter how good your products or service are. Your staff will be less keen on taking risks or feeling able to give feedback, stifling creativity and business growth opportunity. Morale is likely to be low, and productivity is affected. It could also lead to higher staff turnover rates. In fact, if your business is suffering from high staff turnover, one thing to consider is your leadership style. If you require assistance with developing a leadership mindset that works for you and your team, then training and mentorship programmes can help.

Trust gaining leadership

There are several facets of trust gaining that you will need to embody. These include:

Open, honest, clear and concise – always be as honest as possible, clear and transparent to avoid confusion and uncertainty. Even when news is unfavourable, getting it out in the open will reduce the need for speculation and rumours, which fuels distrust, and such feeling can quickly spread and have even the most ardent supporters becoming sceptical. 

Clear expectations – leaders must ensure that team members understand their roles and responsibilities. Leaders should set good examples with their own behaviour, offer and accept feedback regularly, allow team members to have a voice, and feel empowered to support you.

Be accountable – this is one area that will gain you respect, always take responsibility when things go wrong and be responsible for your actions and decisions. If you show accountability and how to handle getting things back on track, your staff will see your leadership as a commitment to getting the best in place, even when things haven’t always worked out.


Trust is driven by open and honest communication with team members. Being a part of a team with strong leaders who understand the challenges and celebrate the successes as part of the team, yet know how to guide, lead and model expected behaviour through their own actions, are more likely to build a team that will work harder and make a more significant contribution to the success of the company.

A leader who can inspire and motivate a team is essential. However, not all leaders can get this commitment in a way that will ensure long-term success. A team that works with you rather than for you will fair far better. They will trust you as a leader and be more likely to go that extra mile when needed. Learn the difference between simply managing people and being an effective leader, and gain those skills to help you and your team make a positive difference.

Key skills

How to Develop a Leadership Mindset – Cultivating Key Skills As A Leader

Whether you are a team leader in a company or you are in business for yourself, you will at some point find yourself in a leadership role. How you develop your leadership mindset makes all the difference when it comes to your successes and failures. If you want to develop a good leadership mindset, then you need to ensure that you have the right key skills to be a leader.

What Key Skills Should A Leader Have?

Plan for success

Planning for success helps to make a good leader. It is essential to understand the ideas and concerns of your team to ensure that everyone is in alignment. When you present ideas, you can also defend any decisions by illustrating how they contribute to the overall plan. This ensures that it is easier to work with any concerns. 


A good leader is someone who listens to their team. It is essential to understand their ideas and concerns. The members of any team matter so listening to what they have to say will ensure that it is much easier for others to want to follow your leadership. Good communication skills, both listening and speaking, are essential tools for every single person in a leadership role. 

Willingness to face challenges

As a leader, challenges will undoubtedly arise, and in the position of leader, it is your responsibility to assist your team in overcoming them. Having the right leadership mindset means that you will look on problems as opportunities and recognise the fact that every challenge brings with it the opportunity to not only learn but also to grow. 

Keep your team focused on these outcomes and make sure that they avoid becoming weighed down with issues. Difficulties must always be faced head-on and make the best of a situation rather than running from it.

Be decisive

The right leadership mindset is one that requires the ability to make quick decisions, communicate them with confidence and stand by those decisions whilst still having enough flexibility to adjust your path when necessary. 

Be humble

People like a leader who has confidence, but they won’t easily follow someone who is aggressive or arrogant. They want to see humility and a leader who admits when they are wrong and helps to put things right. More importantly, a leader who is humble will value the skills and contributions of the team who for them and will apportion credit where it is due. 


Leadership mindset means being comfortable with change. When a leader has a fixed mindset, they can begin to miss those important developments and can easily fall behind. It is important to not just look at the present but anticipate the future  in order to make sure that you are prepared for what will be coming up. 


A true leader is someone who has empathy for those around them. They want to see everyone succeed. This empathy, however, needs to work for the best of the business as well, and this means dealing with situations where someone is not able to deliver the required results.

diverse team of leaders Diversity mentoring

Benefits of a diverse team of leaders

If a company wants to offer its workforce equal opportunities and provide the best service to both clients and customers, then hiring and managing a team of diverse individuals is essential. It is not, however enough to employ workers from different backgrounds. It is also essential that the leadership team of a company also reflects diversity. Here are just some of the benefits to be gained from having a diverse team of leaders. 

Greater breadth and depth of perspective and experience

When your leadership team has diversity, then there is a great breadth and depth of experiences within your organisation. This allows for a better ability to relate to clients, stakeholders and employees. It can even facilitate innovation, which is essential in capturing and then maintaining your market share. 

Greater chance of positive change taking place

Executives from backgrounds that are more diverse are more likely to make the kind of decisions that will be agreed upon by top leaders. This can help to put positive changes in place. 

Increase in awareness

Life experiences help to give a powerful filter which assists in seeing and engaging with those around us. When the diversity filters in a leadership team are increased, then awareness of the landscape that you need to navigate is also increased. This helps to improve everything from customer experiences to global opportunities. 

New opportunities

Diversity in your leadership team helps bring perspectives that can aid in pressure-testing judgements and assumptions. This promotes new ways of thinking, improves a growth mindset and enables an organisation open to new ideas. This can help with better employee engagement and empowerment. It also improves speed of decision-making. 

Attract and retain top talent

Putting together a diverse high-functioning team can take effort. However, this is rewarded by the ability to attract and then retain the top talent, which will improve your business strategy. End users are much better represented when their point of view is shared by someone at the table.

Valuable perspectives

Diversity can bring you disaster or success. It depends on the level of inclusion and cultural intelligence within the team. Differences in perspectives allow a situation to be viewed from a number of different angles so that better decisions can be made and ensure that all voices can be heard. 

Better relationship between customer and employee

When a leadership team is more diverse, then an organisation is better able to understand and also build better relationships with both customers and employees. A workplace who are engaged is the foundation for a good organisation. Such a good organisation will go on to provide a service to its customers that is exemplary. This, in turn, will keep customers coming back. A diverse workforce makes it possible for an organisation to meet and serve the wants and needs of its customers in a much better way. 

A Diverse Team Of Leaders Fosters Greater Innovation 

A leadership team that is more cohesive and diverse, one where the members can have candid and open conversations, can help to promote innovation and appeal to customers who are inclusion focused.