Best Practice

Calm leadership: Reducing the impact of imposter syndrome

Imposter syndrome can debilitate the best of leaders. Continuing his series on his approach to headship, which he has termed ‘calm leadership’, headteacher Patrick Cozier offers four approaches to beat imposter syndrome

In the summer of 2006, I was having a conversation with my soon to be predecessor at Highgate Wood School Pauline Ashbee (one of my heroes!).

She was a couple of months from retiring and I was getting ready to take over. She was very keen to support my preparation and could see how nervous I was.

I did not feel ready, and she knew it. As part of a pep talk, she gave me a bit of advice that I have held onto ever since: “Remember Patrick, you can choose what you think.”

Simple, yet powerful. She could see I was struggling with a growing feeling of imposter syndrome. When I had become headteacher designate in the April of that year, I had been a senior leader for five years and seven months, of which just 15 months had been served as a deputy head. It was scary.

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