Identifying and overcoming the challenges presented by the Imposter Syndrome

coach imposter syndrome

The Imposter Syndrome, the persistent feeling of inadequacy despite evident success, is a common challenge among coachees as well as coaches. This psychological pattern leads individuals to doubt their abilities and fear being exposed as a “fraud,” even when they are highly competent and accomplished.

The Imposter syndrome often manifests through:


Setting extremely high standards and feeling inadequate when these standards are not met.

Attribution of Success to External Factors

Believing success is due to luck or other external factors rather than one’s own abilities.

Fear of Failure

Avoiding challenges due to the fear of being exposed as incompetent.

Downplaying Accomplishments

Dismissing praise and undervaluing one’s achievements.


It’s interesting to observe how Coaches, whether in the context of executive, career, life, or performance coaching, play a pivotal role in addressing and balancing the effects of imposter syndrome.

BUT Imposter syndrome doesn’t only affect clients: coaches themselves can also experience it. Here’s an exploration of how imposter syndrome can manifest in coaches and antidotes to manage it:

Manifestations of Imposter Syndrome in Coaches

    • Setting unrealistically high standards for coaching sessions.
    • Over-preparing and feeling stressed about delivering perfect advice.
    • Questioning one’s qualifications or the value of their coaching.
    • Feeling anxious about client feedback or outcomes.
Fear of Exposure
    • Worrying about clients discovering perceived inadequacies.
    • Hesitating to take on new clients or challenges.
Attributing Success to External Factors
    • Believing successful client outcomes are due to clients’ efforts or external circumstances, not the coaching provided.
    • Downplaying positive feedback and testimonials.

Imposter syndrome can undermine coaches’ effectiveness and satisfaction in their role. The first step is to identify and accept the above symptoms or feelings and apply the proper strategy to overcome them.

 Examples of antidotes to Imposter Syndrome for coaches


Self-Reflection and Awareness

Reflect on situations that trigger self-doubt and explore underlying causes.
Keep a record of successful coaching sessions, client testimonials, and personal achievements.

Professional Development

Engage in ongoing learning and professional development to build confidence in skills and knowledge.

Seek supervision or mentorship from more experienced coaches to gain perspective and reassurance.

Building a Support Network

coaching communities or peer support groups to share experiences and gain mutual support.

Encourage constructive feedback from colleagues and collaborate on coaching strategies.

Cognitive Restructuring

Recognise and reframe self-critical thoughts. Replace them with evidence-based affirmations of competence.

Regularly practice self-affirmations and positive self-talk.

Mindfulness and Self-Compassion

Engage in mindfulness exercises to stay present and reduce anxiety about future performance.

Practice self-compassion by treating oneself with kindness and understanding, especially when mistakes occur.

Setting Realistic Expectations

Set realistic and attainable goals for coaching sessions. Celebrate small successes along the way.

Acknowledge that perfection is unattainable, and that growth comes from learning through experience.

Through these strategies, coaches can continue to provide valuable guidance and support to their clients while maintaining their own sense of self-assurance and professional integrity.

Overcoming the Imposter Syndrome with Maria Cussell

Identifying and overcoming the challenges presented by Imposter Syndrome, both for ourselves as coaches and when working with similar issues in coachees, involves key steps.

Discover our 4 exclusive video-coaching sessions with Maria Cussell, an experimented trainer of coach, to overcome your Imposter Syndrome and to guide through this important transition.


Cc mycoachingtoolkit 2024. Articles are freely shareable with proper acknowledgment and link to the original source.

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