Listen to Insecure Overachievers on BBC Radio 4 here. Presented by Laura Empson and produced by Jonathan Brunert.
"It feels like a constant need to prove you should be where you are, and a constant concern, before every meeting that I go to… am I going to make an idiot of myself here and are people going to see through a façade and think actually there’s no real substance to this?"
This is Jeremy Newman. Until recently, Jeremy was the global CEO of BDO, one of the world’s largest accounting firms. He currently chairs important government bodies and a range of other institutions. By any measure he is hugely successful in his professional life, and yet here he is, telling me that he privately worries constantly that he is not good enough.
He is not alone. In my 25 years of researching leadership and professional service firms (such as law and accountancy firms, consultancies and investment banks) I have heard numerous brilliant, successful, and apparently confident people describe themselves as insecure. They are ‘insecure overachievers’: exceptionally capable and fiercely ambitious, but driven by a profound belief in their own inadequacy.