Skip navigation

BLOGImposter Syndrome vs Imposters: Five Tests to Spot the Fake

by Randall CraigFiled in: Make It Happen Tipsheet, Blog, Thought Leadership, TrustTagged as: ,

Do you suffer Imposter Syndrome? For those who may not have heard the term, it refers to the feeling that successful people often get, that perhaps they shouldn’t have gotten the job, or that they are not worthy of the title. At its root is humility, and perhaps a bit of disbelief that others see them as leaders. and perhaps, just a bit, a belief that they are a “fake”, and will at some point be discovered.

Imposter Syndrome vs Imposters: Five Tests to Spot the Fake

While these thoughts may occur with some successful leaders, there are also some people who truly are fake. The question is how to tell the difference.

An exceptionally useful filter are the Ten Tests of Thought Leadership*, but there are several other tell-tale signs to watch out for:

  1. The ratio of self-promotion to third-party endorsement is very skewed.
  2. More reporting on other people’s ideas, than sharing completely new ones of your own.
  3. An inordinate amount of effort spent on monetization. While evidence of the ability to monetize expertise is actually a positive indicator of thought leadership, a singular focus on it isn’t.
  4. A history of backgrounds that are different than the area of current expertise. Think of the Y2K expert who becomes a real estate sales expert who becomes a social media expert who becomes a crypto expert.
  5. Very little new IP created. A thought leader is always thinking, so when there is so little that is being created, then it follows that there is also very little thinking.


The difference between fakes and people who feel the imposter syndrome can be found in these five questions. This week, test yourself: are you inadvertently dipping into behaviors where others may brand you a fake? If so, do something about it. And if you are an aspiring thought leader, put this tipsheet into your calendar for six months from now, and test yourself then.

Thought Leadership Insight: One of today’s more interesting trends is the rise of the “influencer”. These are the people who gain significant numbers of social media followers, and then monetize their list through sponsorships and promos. While some become influencers by their celebrity (movie stars, politicians, etc.), others by dint of their creative posts on YouTube or TikTok, others become “influencers” through their thought leadership. Here’s the insight: while thought leaders can be social media influencers, not all social media influencers are thought leaders.

*Thought Leadership Insight #2: Take my Ten Tests of Thought Leadership. I have a blog post for each one. Start here with the Fancy Title Test.

Related post: Ten Tests: Longevity Test for Thought Leadership, Becoming an Efficient Thought Leader

Does this topic resonate? Reach out to Randall: he can present it to your group.  (More presentation topics)
Download Randall’s professional credentials: Speaker credentials one-sheet or Management Advisory credentials.

Content Authenticity Statement: 100% original content: no AI was used in creating this content.

@RandallCraig (Follow me for daily insights) Professional credentials site.



Randall Craig

Contact us for more on Randall’s topics, availability, and audience fit.

Back to top