Today when meeting with a client, I apologised for my position in the company. I am the Managing Director of Psylutions cut-e Australia, an entity that was formed last April when my company Psylutions merged with a global psychometric testing provider, cut-e. I have been part of Psylutions, a company I started for over eight years. I have given my all to the development of the company, blood, sweat and a hell of a lot of tears and to merge with a global organisation was a real achievement for me and my team.
So why do I feel the need to apologise for my role? Why do I shy away from the position of authority I hold? My career is 17 years old. I have earned (and am still earning!) my stripes. No one handed me the MD role and said ‘there you go young girl, good luck with that’. And yet there are times where I don’t feel that I have done enough to deserve the position I am in.
Last year I wrote a blog on the Imposter Syndrome and in writing it I kept thinking, “I am lucky that I don’t feel like an imposter in my career” (and at the time I honestly believed this). And yet my behaviour today belied this thought. Today, when meeting with a client I needed to assert my position and authority to show we have the credibility and expertise to give them what they need. Today I gave that to them by introducing myself as the Managing Director who can make decisions about their account on the spot, and then I took it away by apologising for the need to tell them that I am the MD.
I did a quick Google search on apologising for your success to see what was returned. Sadly there are a lot of blogs and articles all aimed at women to stop apologising for their careers, their successes and their achievements. Good thing: I am not alone. Bad thing: this is an all too common occurrence in successful women. The moment you apologise for your success or achieve something outside of the norm, you are somehow implying that it wasn’t deserved or that you are out of place, when in reality, you are exactly where you are supposed to be because you worked hard to get there. It also sends the message that if you don’t believe in yourself and your successes, why should anyone else?
This has to stop. For me and for all women (and men) who apologise for what they have earned. We do it to remain humble, to not be seen as ‘blowing our own trumpets’. We do it because it is easier to believe the negative things about ourselves than the positive. We do it because many of us have Imposter Syndrome, i.e. we believe our successes come from external forces such as luck, timing, opportunity and not from internal forces such as intelligence, competence, hard work and discipline. But the price we pay by not owning our success and saying ‘this is who I am and I am proud of it’ is we contribute to the gender bias and perpetuate gender stereotypes.
Today I wasn’t telling the client I am the MD because I wanted to impress her. I was telling the client I am the MD and the buck stops with me. I can make her life easier when working with us because I make the decisions. At Psylutions cut-e Australia we use our flexibility, innovation, professionalism and personableness as reasons to work with us and I wanted her to see that I was living these values.
So, I am not an imposter. I am not a pretender. I am a Managing Director and I am proud of my career and how far I have come as well as how far I still want to go. (if that’s ok with you?)