How new managers can overcome impostor syndrome: An interview with Makeda Andrews

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I met Makeda Andrews (Mak) through a Facebook community for entrepreneurs, and then I discovered she had her own community, The Awesomesauce New Manager Crew. 

I just love her personality, it shines through the screen and then it was so fun to meet her 'live' over Zoom! 

She has a great personal mission- to help new managers develop the confidence and skills to become awesome leaders with thriving teams.

Read on to learn more about Makeda, her thoughts about how new managers can overcome impostor syndrome, and she'll also reveal who on Friends would be the best boss.... And who would be the worst! 😉 

On her Awesomesauce New Manager Crew

Hey Makeda, thanks for doing this article! We first connected in a Facebook group, and then I saw you have a really great group of your own, The Awesomesauce New Manager Crew. What inspired you to create a Facebook group? And what's your vision for the group?

Hey Liz! Thank YOU for making the initial connection actually! I have learned so much from you and I'm inspired by your content and your own journey. It's helped me in so many ways. You are da bomb. And yes, I do have a facebook group for managers. I called it the awesomesauce managers because awesomesauce is my word when I want to really convey just how great something is. Clearly not one with the words huh?

But the reason I created the group is because back in the day when I first started out I had 1001 questions and absolutely no one to ask. So I chose google! Then I had to sort through the information to come up with an answer that was similar to the issue I was experiencing. It was hours of reading and researching. I wanted to create a place that eliminates the stress and overwhelm of having to google every last thing.

The group is supposed to be where you can just pop in and post a question about a specific challenge you are facing and where we can chime in and give advice or simply words of encouragement depending on what you need. I want this group to grow and be a support system and safe space for all newbies starting out.

One really cool aspect of your group is that you do a lot of videos with tips for new managers. What was your personal favourite video so far? And what's been the funniest blooper??

Hmmm my favourite one was my first actually! I told my story and the response was overwhelming. I got a lot of personal messages of people sharing their own stories of being thrown into the deep end. So because of the response I hold that intro dear to me. In terms of the bloopers so hard to pick because something ridiculous is ALWAYS happening to me when I am streaming live. ALWAYS! But most recently, Mango my pup decided that he was going to take down my ring light and webcam with him as he was passing by. Super loud thud and all! Oh Mango! He's lucky he's so cute!

All about New Managers

I think your story of becoming a manager is one that other managers relate to: tapped as high potential, put into a managerial spot and then told "You can figure this out!" 

Being dropped into a position without guidance would put anyone into a "deer in headlights" moment, so I imagine that your community appreciates your support. What area do you find new managers wish they had guidance the MOST to get them out of that deer in headlights feeling?

Yes! So many people have found themselves in this position. One day they are doing their thing really well on one side and the next it's like BAM you're a manager now. It seems that they want some clarity around what's expected of them. So role clarification. I think that it causes a lot of anxiety to be given a title and not really know or understand what success looks like for that title.

So I get a lot of people asking me to explain to them what they should be doing. And I always have to say - you gotta get yourself some clarity from your boss. I can talk to you about what your high level responsibilities are, but I can't give you more before you tell me what's expected of you moving forward.

You and I talked about the impostor feelings that come up for new managers... How much do new managers struggle with impostor feelings? What's your TOP tip for helping a new manager overcome it?

YES! This one comes up a lot! New managers really struggle with imposter syndrome. Just today I had someone just say to me I'm struggling with imposter syndrome in this role.

Usually it's not that direct that the person knows it's that per say - but it is. I usually walk them through a series of steps including taking a standout assessment to really determine their superpowers to leverage that. But honestly, the very first thing we discuss is the reality that they are not alone in this feeling and that EVERY manager feels like this at some point. I don't care how senior the person is, they have experienced it.

But that the key to moving ahead is taking action despite those disquieting thoughts. I encourage them to add the word yet to their sentences. My mentor did this to me once. I remember I was complaining about having to give presentations one day in his office. And I was like listen, I am no good at public speaking. And he was like you're not good at public speaking YET. But you will be. And it totally changed the frame from how I was viewing things.

Yes as a new manager you are going to have those imposter messages and on top of that yes you are missing some vital skills. But that doesn't mean you won't get better or that there isn't a way for you to learn those skills. You just have to take it one wobbly step at a time.

Now a fun question!!! You and I both love Friends, so tell me.... Which "Friend" do you think would be the BEST boss and why? And which "Friend" would be super fun boss but a TERRIBLE manager???

I LOVE friends! So obsessed! It's a problem. Okay sooo if I had to choose I think Rachel would be the best boss because of her empathy.

And Chandler as much as I love him would be a terrible manager because literally everything is a joke. But he's hilarious!

Thoughts about Impostor Message & Impostor Syndrome

So onto a more serious topic... A lot of women I work with face what I call "impostor messages", for example when women see that it’s mainly men getting promoted, it’s a silent message that women don’t belong in leadership in their company. Have you witnessed or experienced impostor message? What advice do you have for getting past it?

Absolutely I've experienced it and I've talked to many others who have. I would say choose better thoughts. Listen, it might be 100% true that men are getting promoted more than the women. But that doesn't mean you can't. And you won't really know unless you are willing to try.

But if you tell yourself from the beginning there is no use trying then yah you will stay stuck. So choose more empowering and actionable thoughts. Don't knock yourself out of the game. But if you are trying and doing your part and it's still not happening then we have another problem that we can talk through.

Her Big Dreams

And now to a more coach-y question, that I love to ask my guests... What's one thing you'd do if you KNEW you couldn't fail?

Say what?! Give a ted talk! LOL . Is that weird? I have to read back to what your other guests are saying. I bet you they are saying pretty awesome things and mine is so boring!

And one "dream big" question I also ask -- If I could wave a magic wand and you could change ONE thing for women in the workplace, what would it be?

I like this question. There is a lot that needs to change for women in the workplace but it also starts with us. I really wish as women that we would support each other more.

I would love it if more women mentored others as they are rising up and supporting each other on big initiatives. Wow that would be beautiful!

Think of all the impact and change that could happen if we just started actually supporting one another more.

 Let's take a moment to admire & brag about your courses... Because you have a few of them! Which one is your most popular course? And which one is a hidden gem that you're super proud of?

Aww Liz you are so sweet! So actually I just streamlined everything into one program because I was really thinking through how I could help first time managers in the quickest way possible. So my main program is the New Manager Accelerator. It's a 90 day intensive for first time managers or emerging leaders who are missing the training, skills and as a result the confidence to effectively do their job.

And unlike other programs that skim the surface with theory I really go layers deep. I aim to go layers deeper to help you practically apply what you are learning to your situation and I use my own mistakes and wins as an example wherever I can so that you can see how it plays out in real life rather than theory.

I'm really proud of this because I know that it will help any manager stepping into their role show up in a whole different way. It will save them the time hassle and stress. And when you're equipped with the right tools and resources you feel better about yourself which affects so much more than just being at work. So I'm thrilled that it makes more than just an impact at work.

Her Recommended Resources

Last question that I love to ask everyone, because my audience loves resources... What's your favourite leadership book or podcast that you recommend?

My absolute favourite is Unstoppable Teams by Alden Mills.

And as a BONUS question... Who do you love to follow online about leadership and management? What are your favourite blogs or Instagram accounts?

Yes! I love the Entreleadership Podcast. I follow them religiously - I don't think I've missed a podcast in three years! I also follow Brene Brown. She's just so real. She tells it as it is which is why I love her. Simon Sinek and Kristen Hadeed.

Can't you just feel her energy coming through the screen? She's so much fun, you definitely need to check out her videos in her Facebook group for new managers or her blog, MAKTV. You can also find her website with resources for new managers here!

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Wondering how to manage imposter syndrome as a mid-level leader?