Business, Consulting, Women

Imposter Syndrome

The term Imposter Syndrome was first coined in 1978 by psychologists Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes, who were looking for a better explanation as to why high achieving women often attributed their success to luck rather than accomplishment. Clance and Imes first observed Imposter Syndrome in a group of “highly successful” professional and pre-professional women across several regions, institutes and disciplines.

Since that time there have been numerous articles and studies published which have contributed to our understanding of the syndrome however its prevalence remains very high. In 2020, Laura Newinski (KPMG) stated that 75% of executive women in their (KPMG) study identified as having experienced Imposter Syndrome at various points throughout their careers. Despite being found more commonly in women, the term now applies to both male and female achievers who are psychologically uncomfortable with acknowledging their role in their success. 

Imposter Syndrome can be described as a “faulty belief system where one chronically doubts her abilities in spite of rivalling external evidence”. In my own consulting work over the past year, more than 80% of clients undertaking coaching / mentoring have identified with the syndrome and say it is part of their belief system. And this is despite very clear evidence to refute these beliefs.

Imposter Syndrome can lead the sufferer to doubt their achievements, and to fear being “exposed as a fraud”. It can hamper leadership and success as sufferers feel vulnerable and exposed, which makes taking risks and being innovative and creative much harder (and less likely). The syndrome can negatively impact mental wellbeing and also results in limiting the roles and jobs that sufferers will apply for and this will further exacerbate the continuing under-representation of women in leadership roles.

Some useful questions for self-reflection:

  • What is my belief system about my performance?
  • What is my evidence to support these beliefs?
  • How do I stand apart from others in my field?
  • Do I feel like this is “bragging”?
  • Am I afraid of people realising I am not as good as they think I am? Will they “wake up” one day and see what I see?
  • What do I really want?
  • How can I get it?
  • How can I build a powerful, connected and authentic network which will support me as I challenge my belief systems?

I facilitate coaching / mentoring with a number of individuals and also run workshops for women who are leaders (regardless of role) – if this has triggered a curiosity in you, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me to discuss ways I might be able to support you.

Business, Consulting, Jenny Jackson, Leadership

Staying Kind

Recently a friend and I talked via Zoom (is there any other way these days?!) and she coined the phrase “Staying Kind” and I love it (thanks friend xxx).

It’s kind people who inspire me to “Stay Kind” and this blog is about Leaning in to Kindness” and “Staying Kind” regardless of what others do. Often easier said than done, so “Staying Kind” requires a clear intention, it takes determination and it takes a tribe who “have your back”.

It’s pretty difficult not to be overwhelmed with sadness, infuriation, and fatigue by the divisive, negative and often outright nastiness that circulates around the world. But it is also possible to feel immense gratitude and optimism by the resistance of so many, to this way of being. The recent election of Jacinda Ardern as NZ Prime Minister is, to me, cause for optimism and gratitude. A strong and kind leader – who is achieving so much, not by force or nastiness, but through intelligence, policy, humanity and kindness.

Kindness is a willingness to full-heartedly celebrate someone else’s successes. Kindness is about telling the truth in a gentle way. Kindness includes being kind to yourself. 

Kindness in leadership is often seen as weak or naïve but I see it as a huge strength, an act of humanness, decency and one that requires courage. Unfortunately, women who are kind in their work are all too often seen as weak, “will never make it” or as naïve. On the other hand, men who display kindness at work are often regarded as “inspiring” and “compassionate”. Achieving gender equity is a long and tiring quest but one that makes sense for people of any gender. Kindness should be revered and something that we all aspire to, regardless of gender.

My tips for “Staying Kind” in leadership:

  • Walk softly with people;
  • Be kind and lead with intention and determination;
  • Leave people with a feeling of kindness having met / spoken / dealt with you;
  • Keep kindness in your heart and give freely;
  • Lead with courage, kindness, respect and self-worth;
  • Care for others and treat them with kindness; even if they might not care for you;
  • Remember that we can accomplish things with kindness which we cannot achieve by force;
  • Lean in with others when you see them leading with kindness;
  • Celebrate with all kind leaders; regardless of gender;
  • Expect and acknowledge kindness from others;
  • Be like Elsa and “let it go”; just because others don’t behave in a way that shows kindness doesn’t mean we have to repeatedly ‘go there’;
  • Having said be like Elsa… call out acts of unkindness (kindly!) – whether it is at work, in the media or on social media. If not you then who?;
  • Remember that being kind is not the same as being weak. It is possible to have difficult conversations and yet still be kind;
  • Be kind to yourself and surround yourself with people who are kind.

In my workshops “Conversations With The Curious”, kindness is an absolute expectation and is always shared in bucket-loads. It fills our tanks and makes us feel lighter and optimistic. If you are seeking more kindness in your life, your work and your performance, we would love you to join us for the next workshop or email me on for more information.

Aged Care, Business, Health Care, Jenny Jackson, Leadership, Nurses

Nursing: Reflections on the delights and disappointments

It’s been a long time since I have been so close to the front line of healthcare in Australia. Throughout my time in senior leadership roles in hospitals, community health, women’s health and family violence, my nursing qualifications, knowledge and experience have been invaluable. They’ve helped me articulate evidence based arguments for funding, change of policy and new programs. They’ve helped me provide compassionate care in crisis situations – at work and in my personal life. They’ve provided a well-rounded view of health and wellbeing and a commitment to forever learning. I have never lost my love of the profession and my deep respect for those working in the multitude of roles within it.

Working in a leadership role as part of the COVID-19 response in Aged Care, I have been both delighted and disappointed.

Delighted by the generosity of nurses and health workers in their resident and patient care, often in the face of personal risk and potential harm.

Delighted by the “roll your sleeves up and lean in” kind of team work not often seen elsewhere.

Delighted by the understanding, gratitude and acceptance of those so heavily impacted – the residents, patients and their loved ones.

Disappointed that it is not unusual (in fact, it is very common) for nurses to go entire shifts without a toilet, water or meal break and to work unpaid overtime without having a choice in the matter. Balm for cracked dry lips, electrolytes replacement and headaches – all part of the dehydration they’re experiencing. Not for one or two shifts, but for all. For the “love” of it? No. Because they care. Because there is often no other alternative. Because nurses choose to care for another before themselves.

Disappointed that there are still not enough qualified and experienced staff to support those less experienced or qualified.

Disappointed with the fragmentation of the system despite the Royal Commission in to Aged Care and what we in the field have known for too long.

Disappointed that while nurses are rated as one of, if not “the” most respected profession, that the rate of pay for nurses is appalling.

Disappointed that what nursing is and isn’t is still not well understood by many. It’s certainly not all bedpans and baths, although this is, of course a component of overall care. The requirements for nurses to have finely tuned patient assessment and management skills are immense. The critical thinking that nurses do, always working with medical staff to develop a plan of care, not just blindly following orders. In fact, experienced nurses frequently guide junior doctors and help them make decisions based on their assessments and monitoring of the patient. Nurses are with the patient 24-hours a day. The knowledge of medications – and the consequences of administration and use are exceptional and have the potential to save or take lives.

Disappointed that there is little genuine recognition that nurses are with us as we take our first breath. And our last. There is great responsibility in this privilege.

Disappointed that the connection between how hard (albeit rewarding) the job is and the loss of expertise from the profession with the rates of pay, are still not being directly linked and addressed. A nurse should not “have” to work regular weekend, evening shifts or night shifts just to make a decent wage. Other than nurses, who else with minimum 3-year degrees (and often further degrees and qualifications after that) would do this job for $30-$36 p/hour? Back in the late 1980’s we had a slogan… “A nurses dedication doesn’t pay the rent”. Sadly, it’s just as true today.

Disappointed that nurse : patient ratios are not mandated in all sectors. It is not enough to leave it up to private providers to “do the right thing” because while many do the right thing, there are many who don’t.

EVERYONE I have spoken to says what an amazing job nurses do. It is absolutely time for us to reward nurses for a fair days work with a fair days pay. We will all benefit from this in one way or another. It is the right thing to do, so let’s do it.

Business, Consulting, Jenny Jackson, Organisations, Strategic Planning, Women

Growing Into Your Gifts

In thinking about writing this blog about mentoring, I kept coming back to “why?” many of us seek to have a mentor or undertake external supervision or coaching. While they are different things and use different techniques,  there are some strong common elements.

Personally, I think mentoring is a really beneficial pathway for supporting individuals to “grow into their gifts”.

A client recently thanked me for their current success. My response was probably a bit odd but it made sense to her and me! I thought I might share it with you…

“What would it feel like to own your success? Because a sunflower seed can only grow to be a sunflower. And sure, it needs the right environment and circumstances. But if you are a sunflower seed, you cant grow into a weed. As a sunflower seed, you already had ‘sunflower potential’ and yes, it is easier to grow into a strong and healthy sunflower if you have good water and nutrients but you couldn’t be a sunflower if it wasn’t already in you.”

I think the same applies to humans. Yes, we can learn and grow but we will always be a human with potential to fulfill our gifts. I truly believe that the role of a mentor is to support the individual to identify their gifts and grow into them.

These are some key words that I think describe aspects of (or reasons for) mentoring:

  • Supports the individual in gaining (and trusting) insight;
  • Increases capability and confidence to navigate complexity;
  • Mentoring is often intuitive and supports the individual to tap into their intuition;
  • Supports and guides personal and professional growth;
  • Encourages and promotes growth through reflection;
  • Provides “stretch” in a safe and supportive environment;
  • Assists the individual to explore options and consider strategies;
  • Enables the individual to ‘practice’ new skills in a safe, non-judgemental setting;
  • Two way process driven by mentor and mentee;
  • Supports the individual to find solutions and work out things for themselves;
  • Heavy on listening

The opportunity to work alongside of others as they grow into their gifts is a delight and professionally, very rewarding. Like any professional relationship, it can sometimes take time to find ‘the right’ mentor or coach and this search is really important and absolutely legitimate. I have a trusted network of highly respected peers with whom I refer (and vice versa) as circumstances warrant it. My advice is to not be afraid to try a few to see what works best for you. After all, its your gifts your growing into and only you know what is going to deliver the best outcomes for you.

So if you are keen to “grow into your gifts” I highly recommend finding a mentor or coach – one who will help you be the best sunflower you can be!

Business, Consulting

The Head and Heart of Leadership

There are many who write and talk about “head and heart” in leadership. I hope that this blog stimulates discussion and thought for you. Writing it has certainly helped me to bring further clarity to my own thinking about leadership.

Head and Heart leadership has been a strong focus of my own leadership style for as long as I can remember. To be truthful, at the time I didn’t think of it in that way, in fact I don’t think I thought about it at all. It just seemed ‘the right thing to do’ and ‘the right way to do it’. It was purely intuitive and definitely not planned.

The first time I recall being made aware of my ‘style’ was when I was a newly appointed Director of Nursing at a hospital in Melbourne. It had been alleged by a patient that a member of staff had been physically abusive to them. This type of complaint was very rare (phew) and, looking back on it now, it was a big thing to deal with in my first senior leadership role. It could have gone horribly wrong…

This complaint obviously triggered an investigation into the matter and included a meeting with the staff member. Fortunately, the staff member brought their union representative along with them. During the meeting, the staff member agreed that the patient accusation was correct and that they had done what was alleged. This amounted to serious misconduct and appropriate action was taken in accordance with the organisations’ disciplinary procedures (ie termination of employment). We discussed this in detail at the meeting and next steps were outlined by me and agreed by the staff member. Following the meeting, the union rep made the following statement and it has stuck with me forever.

“Just before we finish, I want to acknowledge how fair and kind you have been today and I want to thank you for that. It is very rare to come to a meeting which is managed the way you have done it, despite the nature of the issue and the outcome for xx (staff member).”

I was stunned – it isn’t common to have such feedback when essentially terminating someone’s employment. I did not (and still don’t) regard my management of this incident as anything special – it was just the right way to do it as far as I was concerned. This was a very serious incident and resulted in someone losing their job. They had done the wrong thing, no question. But that did not warrant or give me license to be unfair, unreasonable or even unkind to the staff member.

Since then, there have been many other sources of feedback which have reflected appreciation for me remaining kind, people-focussed and respectful (behaving with “heart”) whilst also ensuring that the business needs and accountabilities are fulfilled (“head”). Each time, I have felt somewhat awkward about receiving such feedback and have frequently commented that I don’t think we, as leaders “should get brownie points for being kind. Kindness and respect should be a given”. Apparently though, it isn’t a given for many. I’m really curious about this and have often pondered why it is that some leaders don’t bring heart to their leadership. Is it that they see it as “soft” and therefore, a bad or “weak” thing? Is it because to bring heart to leadership we must show something of ourselves and perhaps this creates a vulnerability that some leaders can’t accept?

There are definitely risks associated with too much of one or the other. Look at any organisation where the leader preferences being “liked” and neglects to ensure that the business performs, and look at any organisation where the people are “invisible” to the leaders and the business outcomes are the priority. Both look different, but I (and many others) argue that neither style will achieve sustained, longer term success.

There’s certainly a challenge in finding our own, unique ‘sweet spot’ – where we balance both head and heart.

I am absolutely convinced that a balance of both “head” and “heart” are essential components for any leader to be successful over time. So convinced that in my new series of workshops entitled “Conversations With The Curious”, the first session will focus on this directly.

I’m curious about what you think about head and heart of leadership and welcome your thoughts and views!

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