Book Review: ‘Unmasking’ by Tara Halliday

Unmasking: About The Book

We hear it all the time, people talking about themselves or a new person in the team having imposter syndrome.  When imposter syndrome crops up in discussion it is often due to a short term lack of confidence.  How many of us have taken the time to understand the true meaning or even how to work through it?  Author, Tara Halliday PhD, provides an in-depth view of this phenomenon in her book Unmasking, which will turn your thinking on imposter syndrome upside down.

Deconstructing The Misunderstood

Before you read the book, you will no doubt have some ideas about imposter syndrome.  If you have studied coaching you may very well be spot on with your synopsis.  Initially, Tara breaks down the definition with clarity deconstructing this misunderstood condition.  Many will think of it as being unconfident in the face of a new job or activity.  Chapter two provides an in-depth view that is clear and concise.  This is very much the structure of Unmasking throughout, making it easy to understand and reflect on.  As Tara has structured it this way contents are easy to find and review.  This is an essential element as people have busy lives or may need to reference a certain section right now.

Thorough, Contemporary and Valid

While reading Unmasking you do feel you are in safe and knowledgeable hands.  Throughout the book, there are academic references reinforce the contents.  This is helpful for those who want to read further or delve into a specific area for themselves.  The importance of the references should not be ignored.  These provide validity, a notion that this book is not only well written but also well researched.   To underpin the explanations, Tara uses life examples to demonstrate the point, bringing it to life.  As you read through each section, there is a realisation that this could be you.  This provides not only realism but a contemporary element that imposter syndrome happens every day – and is crippling for some.

Unmasking The Coach's Guide to Impostor Syndrome by Tara Halliday

Unmasking by Tara Halliday

Unmasking a Wider Context

Unmasking is generally aimed at coaches who can then provide practical solutions to those who experience it.  Tara has named this book perfectly.  As you read and begin to understand imposter syndrome: the mask does reveal the true meaning and the condition underneath.  There is a wider context for this book.  Managers and leaders at any level should read it, especially if their team has new people or high performers.  The book provides another view of why performance can slide and the stress of being new into a role.  Reflecting back on teams, there is a realisation that knowing this would have changed my management approach.

Behavioural Changes

These are behavioural changes that can be made instantly:

  • Through a deeper understanding of imposter syndrome, we can look to ourselves and those we coach and manage.  This provides a higher level of awareness and therefore adapt our behaviour towards these people appropriately;
  • Through this new knowledge you will have the correct tools and techniques for aiding others; and
  • This book provides a new confidence in dealing with imposter syndrome which will release others, enabling their high performance.

Significant Performance Impact

The reasons that, if implemented, it will have a significant impact on performance is:

  • Our performance as coaches and managers is heightened and therefore solutions can be adopted quickly upon recognising imposter syndrome;
  • You will be able to recognise imposter syndrome in yourself.  Through this recognition, you can move to reflect and change this.  This will take a higher level of refection and self-awareness; and
  • Our efficiency and effectiveness as coaches and managers will improve as recognition and solutions can be adopted quickly.

Long Term Behavioural Changes

The reasons these behavioural changes are likely to last long term are:

  • This is a powerful coaching tool and one that can be called upon where required;
  • Once understood and observed, deployment of the new skills within Unmasking can be released.  Over time and through practice, noticing the signs of imposter syndrome will become therefore help can be provided more efficiently; and
  • Becoming a skilled practitioner will aid others in many situations including the people we manage, peers and colleagues.  This deeper understanding can develop and enhance approaches.

Final Thoughts

This is a well written and well-considered book, from a qualified expert in the field.  Reading Unmasking will enhance the way you coach and manage.
This book goes beyond the field of coaching to be a strong aid for managers in general.  Working though, you realise that you could have missed something important in your coaching and management of people.  This book will change the way you think about imposter syndrome and how you view people who display the signs.
Unmasking is impactful, credible and unmissable.  A superb book and one not to be passed by.

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