We question our ability to lead as experts because of the idea that we have to know everything in order to be effective leaders. Doubt becomes the barrier of why we are not showing up.
Common statements like "I don't know what I need to be doing" or "What if somebody asks me something that I don't know?" come up when I talk to mental health clinicians about why they do not see themselves as the expert. The truth is - you don't have to know everything to be seen as the expert in your niche or specialty. We are not encyclopedias, we are not the news.
You know what you know about your lane and how you show up in that lane. These are four reasons that you may not be showing up as the Expert.
The first reason is what can be considered as perceived imposter syndrome.
What is perceived imposter syndrome?
Imposter syndrome has been going around, everybody's been talking about, "Oh, I have imposter syndrome. Somebody's going to find me out that I don't know what I know," but that's just perceived. That's just what you perceive other people are thinking about you. Truthfully, these people are probably not thinking about you. So, it's perceived imposter syndrome. The imposter that you are dealing with is your own internal thoughts, what you're thinking, what you're perceiving about what you may not know. You are the expert, you know what you need to know. You've been to school. If you are a counselor, you have been to school for three years or more to get your degree, you have done what you needed to do, or you're working towards what you need to know about getting the license, so you have a level of expertise about the areas that you're seeking to know about.
We can't practice outside our competency, but what we can do is practice in the lane that we know about. Then as you are learning about more things that you want to be considered an expert in another area, you do your due diligence to become an expert. If it's getting a certification, if it's studying more, if it's practicing more, you could become an expert in that lane, but right now, you know what you need to know to be considered the expert in the area that you are focusing on.
Reason two is having a lack of clarity about your knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs). Sometimes we flood ourselves with so much knowledge that we are not really clear about what we know, and it can be overwhelming. My suggestion for this is to narrow down to two to three areas that you want to be known for and that you want to be seen as the expert. Narrow those areas down, get clear about what you know, what your knowledge is, what your skills are, what your abilities are in those areas and share that from that space.
So, let's say for instance, one of your areas is self care for millennials. What do you know? What is your knowledge around that area? What is your knowledge around self care? What is your knowledge around millennials? How does self care and millennials work together? So, you have to get clear about what you know, what your skills are and what you’ve been doing to build your skills in serving those individuals.
The third reason is fear of failure. The reason why we do not show up is because we are fearful of failing. We don't want to be made a fool of, we don't want to be exposed, so we will not show up in our area because we think somebody else has more knowledge or we say to ourselves, “What if I fail? What if what I say is wrong?"
As leaders, we usually have done our fact finding to make sure what we are presenting is true because we have studied it, we have researched it, we have read, we have taken certifications, we have taken classes (do you get the jest). So, we know what we know. So when we talk about fear of failure, that is just another way we sabotage ourselves in not showing up as the expert we are.
The final reason is lack of consistency. We need to pick a social media platform, one or two, show up consistently in that message. I have been guilty of it. I have been scattered, but I have learned that when I show up consistently in that lane, that is where people begin to look for me.
People will begin to talk about you when you are being consistent and showing up consistently with your messaging on your platforms. They know that's your lane. They're like, "Oh, if I need this, I can reach out to blah, blah, blah, because that is their lane. That is where they show up consistently, and I can refer people to them.
So remember, the four reasons why you may not be showing up as the expert is number one, perceived imposter syndrome. Two, lack of clarity about your knowledge, skills, and abilities. Number three is fear of failure. Finally is lack of consistency.
Dr. Lacrecia Dangerfield, LPC-MHSP, ACS is a mental health professional who teaches mental health entrepreneurs and leaders to build an authentic brand and grow their business so they can lead the life they are meant to live.