How to fight impostor syndrome at work

When Chris Capossela joined Microsoft in 1991, one of the first things he noticed was how much faster his colleagues were being promoted than he was.

At first, he ignored the news of their promotions – he was, after all, a marketing manager, while his work friends were engineers and product designers, and their teams worked at different paces. Besides, he thought, who doesn’t feel insecure at 20, at the start of their career?

He changed jobs within a year, becoming a product manager in Microsoft’s desktop database products team, but the lateral change didn’t quell the deep sense of unease and impostor syndrome. who have begun to settle.

“I was watching my roommates, who also worked at Microsoft, being offered better paying jobs and promotions faster than me and it made me wonder, ‘God, am I doing something wrong? ‘” he told CNBC Make It.

Still, he decided to pursue the jobs at Microsoft that he was passionate about, even if they didn’t come with a bigger paycheck or higher title.

Thirty-one years and several job changes later, Capossela, 53, is now Microsoft’s chief marketing officer — and he wouldn’t have made it to the C-Suite, he says, without first learning how to fight imposter syndrome and letting go of passion, not competitiveness or other people’s expectations, guides his career.

Why comparing at work is a “toxic” habit

One of the most important lessons Capossela learned during his career at Microsoft is that there is no clear path to success.

“You’re going to move at a different pace from the person to your left and to your right, but if you spend all of your time looking left and right and comparing yourself to your peer group, you’re going to miss out on a great career. organic that is rich and full of learning,” he says. “It’s very toxic and dangerous to do that.”

Lateral career moves can be just as valuable as vertical advancement, he adds. “I was never a 5- or 10-year plan… when I started at Microsoft, I just followed my instincts and took on interesting jobs that I qualified for,” he says. “But in the long run, lateral moves and taking positions on different teams can really pay off, because it gives you a broader perspective of your industry or company, which will make you a more valuable worker across the board. line.”

You don’t have to change jobs to reap the benefits of lateral career change: showing interest in what other teams are doing within your organization, learning different job responsibilities, and being prepared to seize opportunities beyond the narrow scope of what lies within your business. role description (up to an amount you can manage) are all great ways to challenge yourself and position yourself for the next step in your career, notes Capossela.

“You will do your best when you are most passionate about it”

Top performers don’t fixate on how long it will take them to reach a certain title or make six figures, Capossela says.

“Don’t fall into the trap of thinking, ‘If I’m not a manager in 10 years, I’m a failure’ or a different step,” he warns. “I don’t find that people who have long careers that they are satisfied with think that way…instead they focus on how they can add value to their team today and how they can learn and grow in their current role.”

There’s no secret to climbing the corporate career ladder, but Capossela points out that you’ll be more confident and successful at work if you align your professional pursuits with your passion.

“You’re going to do your best when you’re most passionate and don’t spend all your energy wondering if this job will benefit your career trajectory and what other people are doing in the long run,” he says. .

“My number one tip is to always take the job you are most passionate about because that’s where you’ll be your best, and when others see you at your best, it’s more likely to lead to others. great opportunities.”


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