You may not have heard the term ‘pedestal complex’ before. That is probably because it is one I have developed to describe what I have heard several of my clients talk about lately.
It is about people feeling anxious or held back, usually when they are promoted and/or join a new leadership group, due to the presence of people they have always seen as far more senior than themselves during their career and now they are a peer.
The following are also usually true from what I have experienced:
- This feeling is not due to the behaviour of the people that were formerly more senior.
- The feeling isn’t there in relation to ‘new’ people i.e. those who have joined the organisation recently.
- Often, the more senior people have played a role in supporting/overseeing the individual’s career development.
- Frequently, the individuals that provoke anxiety are older in age.
This shows me that the negative impact people are experiencing with ‘Pedestal Complex’ comes from themselves, they are effectively seeing these people that have long been more senior than them as superior i.e. Putting them on a pedestal.
The problem is, it means the person feeling this way has a cloud hanging over them and it may affect their performance in important meetings and other interactions which prevents them fulfilling their potential.
Mindsets are difficult to change, it’s often a slow process to try and re-programme your thinking. I do however have some suggested actions that people in this situation might want to consider:
- Remember these people were probably part of the decision to promote you.
- Remember these people are human too, seek to build/develop the relationship outside of formal meetings.
- Conversation with the people on the pedestal should not be entirely focused on work (this is the case with all colleagues and clients!).
- Yes, these people are more experienced at this level. However, you have fresh ideas and energy to bring and probably a different type of experience.
If you are in a new role and finding there are some skills you need to develop to meet your objectives, particularly in regard to how you deal with people – colleagues and clients/customers, then contact me for a confidential, no obligation conversation to see if I can help you move forwards. You are not alone; many people feel held back by situations such as ‘pedestal complex’.