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EURES (EURopean Employment Services)
News article19 October 2023European Labour Authority, Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion3 min read

Embrace and overcome the five types of imposter syndrome

Imposter syndrome can cripple your sense of worth and affect your confidence at work. In this article, we look at the five types of imposter syndrome, and how you can embrace and overcome them to reach your full potential.

Embrace and overcome the five types of imposter syndrome


The Superhero

Superheroes push themselves to work harder than anyone else. They tend to believe that they must be the hardest worker or reach the highest levels of achievement. We live in a world that constantly emphasises productivity, and Superheroes can take this to the extreme.

If you identify with the Superhero, you might find it difficult to delegate tasks or ask for help when you need it. Recognise that you do not have to take on the burden of doing everything yourself. This will help you to avoid burnout and reduce your stress levels. Try to remember yourself that your self-worth should not be dependent on your productivity. Take breaks and prioritise your mental wellbeing when you need to.

The Perfectionist

Perfectionists set incredibly high standards for themselves, which are often unrealistic. When they can’t meet these standards, they begin to question their worth.

If you identify with the Perfectionist, acknowledge that your perfectionism can be both a strength and a weakness. Make a conscious effort to set realistic goals which are manageable and achievable. Often, Perfectionists only see the final outcome as worthy of recognition. Instead, celebrate all successes and milestones, no matter how small they may seem to you.

The Individualist

Individualists often feel that unless they do something alone, without assistance, then the success is not theirs. They believe that if they have received help, their skills and experience must be inadequate.

If you identify with the Individualist, remember that getting help is not a sign of weakness. A lot of tasks need collaboration, and you can produce your best work with the inputs and expertise of others. Learning from others will also help you to grow and improve your own skills.

The Natural Genius

The Natural Genius is someone who has found things easy since childhood. When they encounter challenges and difficulties in adulthood, they often feel like they are a fraud, as they have not built up the resilience to know that they can persevere through challenges.

If you identify with the Natural Genius, know that it is okay not to excel at everything, especially the first time you do it. Intelligence is not fixed – you can develop your skills through effort and practice. Do not be afraid of finding something difficult the first time. It is a natural part of life, so use it as an opportunity to learn and grow.

The Expert

Experts often believe that they need to dedicate a significant amount of time to research before they can start a task. This can affect productivity, task completion and confidence trying new things.

If you identify with the Expert, acknowledge the skills you already have – there is a good reason you have been asked to take on a particular task. Being an expert does not mean that you need to know everything, but rather that you have a considerable understanding of the subject. Don’t be afraid of any gaps in your knowledge. Instead, use them as an opportunity to connect with others in your team and collaborate to find a solution.

For advice on how to cope with imposter syndrome, check out our article on ‘Four golden rules to deal with imposter syndrome in the workplace’.


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Four golden rules to deal with imposter syndrome in the workplace


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