The Five Types of Imposter Syndrome

The Five Types of Imposter Syndrome

As a follow up to my previous blog post, there are five types of imposter syndrome. To recap, imposter syndrome is the feeling of not belonging or feeling like you have tricked others to get where you are in your career. It is extremely detrimental to women and makes us believe we are undeserving of all the positive things happening in our lives. Each “type” of  imposter syndrome has specific characteristics, but I’m guessing you see yourself in more than one of these, I know I do! 

The Perfectionist


Many of us have described ourselves as perfectionists. But for those that have the Perfectionist type of imposter syndrome, the term refers to how they see and therefore act around the successes of their lives. As a perfectionist they set unrealistic or excessively high goals that when they fail to reach those goals, they create more self-doubt. An example of this is when hired at a new job, you aim to get a promotion and raise within the first year. The moment that year is up and you’re still in the same title making the same salary you tell yourself it’s because you didn’t work hard enough. Those not intimately involved would likely say the reason that you didn’t get the promotion was because you just started a new job at a new company and the odds for such quick growth were unlikely. But as a perfectionist you think that your self-worth is tied to these goals and therefore label yourself as missing the mark. The Perfectionist types are also considered control freaks that believe if they want anything done right, they must do it themselves. This can lead to them overworking and being relentless in their journey for “success” though success is rarely satisfying for them. It goes with the name but perfectionists do not take mistakes in stride, rather they tend to dwell on them far longer than they should. All of these thoughts churn together to create more self-doubt and therefore ammunition for the perfectionist imposter syndrome actions to continue. It becomes an endless loop of self-doubt and loathing.

The Superwoman


You know the Superwoman...she does it all or at least tries to. The Superwoman type of imposter syndrome would act as you expect once you read the name. Typically, The SuperWoman types are workaholics that need the constant validation that comes from work. They are likely the colleagues with little social life outside of the office that answer emails quickly and rarely seem to be “off the clock.” Their enthusiasm to work constantly is simply to cover the insecurities they have about the value they bring. Likely they continually take on more than they can handle, often to the detriment of relationships and overall quality of life. While the name sounds promising the characteristics of being a Superwoman usually result in negative results in the individual's overall life.

The Natural Genius


The Natural Genius type of imposter syndrome tends to judge their success based on abilities not final outcome. They believe that they should simply be able to do any task at hand and that if they had to “work hard” at it then they must be bad at it. These could be the colleagues who place blame or swears off tasks because they are “just not good at it.” However, typically if the task doesn’t come naturally to them, they won’t attempt it.They also share the quality with the perfectionist that sets the internal bar impossibly high and when they are unable to complete the task quickly and accurately the first time, an internal voice sounds telling them they are unworthy. They often miss out on opportunities because they won’t even try!

The Rugged Individualist


In the current climate “asking for help” is no longer looked down upon but don’t tell the Rugged Individualist this. This type of imposter views asking for help as a weakness and that in doing so, you label yourself incapable. They typically refuse assistance sometimes resulting in mistakes and outwardly struggle with being questioned. A rugged individualist is likely the lone wolf in the office that works away from the group and when their ideas or work are questioned they usually react in a passionate way or close themselves off even more. This type of imposter syndrome tends to struggle to make friends with colleagues more so than the other types.


The Expert


The final of the five types of imposter syndrome is the Expert. The Expert types feel like they tricked their employer into hiring them and are constantly on edge, ready to be exposed as “fake.” They will likely be face down in a book or computer as they endlessly seek out more information in hopes of not being exposed as lacking the knowledge needed for the job at hand. They expect to “know everything about everything.” Similar to the Rugged Individualist they do not ask for help, which sometimes results in procrastination and mistakes made.

You may see yourself in all of these types of imposter syndrome, since they do share commonalities, however by figuring out which type most describes you, you are confronting the issue head on. Many studies have shown that 70% of the workforce has experienced at least some type of imposter syndrome once in their careers. Therefore, it is not just you, but it is very likely that your coworkers are experiencing these feelings as well. By talking about your feelings around being an “imposter” in your career or position, you will be confronting the voice that feeds your imposter syndrome. Leaning on your inner circle or working with a career coach to understand your value and make sure that you know your worth, will also help you overcome imposter syndrome and enjoy your professional accomplishments. To learn more about how to overcome imposter syndrome, ask for what you want or to learn more about becoming the best version of yourself, follow along with the BAX blog!