Imposter Phenomenon: The Work Hack to Help You Overcome It

Imposter Phenomenon

The imposter phenomenon is a term we’ve all heard time and again. Perhaps we even think we may have it. With all the noise around the term, we asked Terri Simpkin, an industry authority on the imposter phenomenon and expert advisor at FemTech Lab, to unpack the term’s meaning and what we can do to overcome it.

What is the imposter phenomenon?

Terri Simpkin, who is Associate Professor and Head of MBA Programmes (Int’l) at the University of Nottingham, says “While the ‘imposter syndrome’ has been trivialised in social media recently, the impostor phenomenon (as it is more correctly known) is of key concern for those leading their own start-up organisations.”

Terri highlights this is because “Pitching for finance, convincing others of their expertise and managing talent around them is likely to be less than successful if unchecked or long-standing ‘feelings of intellectual fraudulence’ or ‘I’m not sure I’m good enough’ are left unresolved in yourself… or in others around you.”

How do you overcome it?

Terri notes that the first and foremost thing a person must do is “smash the mythology of the imposter syndrome”. This can be a difficult process and Terri herself notes that “recognising the impostor phenomenon can be a debilitating experience”. She suggests that you explore “how ongoing imposter phenomenon feelings and behaviours can adversely affect achievement, innovation, and ongoing productivity”.

These two reflections will allow you to understand “the broader business implications associated with the reality of impostor phenomenon (IP) that may limit your success”. Terri is keen to note that “the consequences of IP are not only for founders but for those contributing to the start-up too”. She feels it’s therefore important that leaders respond to “better diminish imposter phenomenon in themselves and/or their team”.

Unpacking Imposter Phenomenon

Simpkin outlines her key points for unpacking the’ imposter phenomenon’:

  • Gain clarity about what imposter phenomenon is, what it is not and how it is manifested at the early stages of a start-up organisation. 
  • Understand that the imposter phenomenon is a socially learned suite of behaviours and thought patterns that can be ‘unlearned’ over time. 
  • Recognise the broader implications of the imposter phenomenon on yourself and those around them (personally and professionally).
  • Develop an understanding of ‘triggers’ and sources of ‘impostor’ feelings and behaviours in a start-up context.  

Terri says, when you “understand how limitations associated with the impostor phenomenon can be recognised, addressed, and diminished” you will be able “to create a better business outcome, greater creativity, and enhanced cultural confidence.”

More Information

Dr. Terri Simpkin will dive deeper into the imposter phenomenon in her FemTech Lab Workshop: Faking It: Why entrepreneurs need to know about the impostor phenomenonYou can hear more from Terri Simpkin and keep up-to-date with the latest workshops at

With thanks to our expert Dr. Theresa (Terri) Simpkin BBA (HRM), BCom (Hons), Ph.D., PGCert (HE), MCIPD, CPHR, Churchill Fellow

Terri Simpkin Imposter Phenomenon
Dr Terri Simpkin

Terri Simpkin is an industry-experienced academic, educator, researcher, public speaker, and an authority on the impostor phenomenon.

Terri is an Associate Professor and Head of MBA Programmes (Int’l) at the University of Nottingham and a Visiting Fellow at Anglia Ruskin University. Her current research interest has developed into Braver Stronger Smarter – a suite of initiatives designed to address personal and structural issues leading to workplace inequity and the under-representation of women in leadership, STEM occupations, and higher education.  

As CEO of Mischief Business Engineering, she has worked globally with governments, industry associations, large and small businesses and is an accomplished international academic manager for two decades.

Visit and for more information.

Recent Research: Totaljobs – Imposter Phenomenon in the age of Covid – 19 

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