Navigating the Impostor Phenomenon

Posted By: Angelica Romano AASPA Blog,
Navigating the Impostor Phenomenon:
A challenge that could potentially affect the motivation of
administrators of color to lead in education

In the labyrinth of challenges that plague the education system in the United States, the shortage of educators stands as a formidable barrier to progress. There is a possibility that this scarcity is not solely a result of external factors such as job demands, burnout, and disengagement, but it may also intersect with internal struggles, particularly for administrators of color in K-12 public schools. 

The impostor phenomenon is a psychological occurrence in which individuals doubt their skills, talents, or accomplishments and have a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud despite tangible evidence of success (Langford & Clance, 1993). The impostor phenomenon manifests as feelings of inadequacy and a persistent fear of being exposed as a fraud despite evidence of competence and success. It's crucial to acknowledge that the impostor phenomenon affects individuals regardless of gender, impacting both men and women alike. Additionally, studies have shown that this phenomenon disproportionately affects people of color. 

Individuals grappling with the impostor phenomenon have reported a slew of detrimental effects, ranging from heightened anxiety and emotional exhaustion to diminished job satisfaction and hindered career progression. Moreover, the impostor phenomenon can undermine their ability to delegate tasks effectively, hamper productivity, and erode their motivation to pursue leadership roles—a critical factor in addressing the ongoing shortage of educational talent in leadership positions.

What's more, the impostor phenomenon engenders a host of personality traits such as perfectionism and workaholism, further exacerbating the mental and emotional toll on individuals. Individuals suffering from the impostor phenomenon find themselves ensnared in a cycle of self-doubt and negative self-evaluation, hindering their ability to thrive in their roles and contribute meaningfully to their organizations.

As organizations grapple with the ramifications of the impostor phenomenon, it becomes imperative to cultivate awareness and understanding of its impact on individual attitudes and organizational dynamics. Addressing this pervasive issue requires a concerted effort to foster supportive environments, provide mentorship and professional development opportunities, and challenge systemic barriers that perpetuate feelings of impostorism among administrators of color.

In essence, the impostor phenomenon is a psychological hurdle that may significantly impede the advancement and retention of diverse educational leaders. confronting the impostor phenomenon is not just a matter of personal resilience—it's a collective responsibility to ensure equity, diversity, and inclusion within the ranks of educational leadership. 


Langford, J., & Clance, P. R. (1993). The imposter phenomenon: Recent research findings regarding dynamics, personality and family patterns and their implications for treatment. Psychotherapy: theory, research, practice, training, 30(3), 495.


Angelica Romano, Executive Director of Human Resources at Glenbrook High School D225 and doctoral student at Olivet Nazarene University, is seeking school administrators of color to contribute to her dissertation research. Her research focuses on examining the prevalence of the impostor phenomenon among school administrators of color and its potential impact on the workplace, which could be a contributing factor to the ongoing administrator shortage.

Access the Demograghics Survey here

If you are interested in participating in this study, kindly complete the Demographics Survey, accessible HERE. The survey comprises 13 questions and should take no more than 3 minutes to finish. Subsequently, Angelica will select individuals from the respondent pool to partake in a survey gauging their level of impostor phenomenon. If chosen, Angelica will reach out to you to schedule an interview, either via Zoom or in person, depending on your preference. It is important to note that you have the option to use a pseudonym to maintain confidentiality, and only Angelica will have access to your information. For additional details on this study, please refer to the attached flyer. Should you have any questions, contact Angelica Romano directly at