Lead Dev 2016 London: Addressing the Imposter Syndrome

Everyone has it.

Why ?

  • “fake if until you make it”: now you feel fake
  • kyriarchy (from the greek kyrios master and archein govern) is a rife in society. “We’re not supposed to be good at this”
  • public reveal of projects leads to public critique
  • we compare our worst to anothers’ best
  • false dichotomy: being liked VS being competent
  • internal criticism


  • less effectiveness as collaborators, because this might reveal that we make mistakes
  • ask for less money/promotion
  • lower satisfaction in life, in work
  • less likely to seek out a new job

-> maginalization and silence

How to get innoculated of this syndrome ?

  • exemple: the iceberg illusion. We don’t see what we need to do to succeed (persistence, failure, sacrifice, disappointment, dedication, hard work and discipline)
  • watch your words (ex “I’m not an expert, but”). People believe when words are repeated. Use “I’m trying/working on that”
  • own it: documentation. Look at what you’ve written 6 months ago and see your progress
  • talk with your friends about it. receive help from them for your CV
  • ask questions: show that people can make mistakes. Make sure everyone is on the same page
  • compare yourself to your yesterday’s self only !
  • make mentorship a first class activity
  • try to eliminate hidden barries entry
  • critique with kindness (it makes things better)
  • leave a compliment
    • positive
    • not physical
    • specific
    • honest
  • store feedback you received to go back to it later when you feel the syndrome

Every expert was once a beginner.

Be clever, competent and kind.