Leadership and Imposter Syndrome – AGL in the Telegraph Business Club, Part 1

We are honoured to be the subject of a short film by Telegraph Business Club, and have shared part of the accompanying article below. Huge thanks to Ranjay Radhakrishnan of , Unilever’s and the brilliant for lending their support. 

“Many bosses have a lack of confidence, displaying signs of imposter syndrome where they can feel inadequate and undeserving of their role despite obvious skills, experience and achievements.

Former BBC producer and political speech writer Anthony Gordon Lennox was intrigued about why so many business leaders presented a masked version of themselves when they went on TV or talked to an audience. 

Gordon Lennox had observed time and again that in corporate environments many senior people lacked authenticity when they communicated and therefore struggled to engage with those they needed to influence or lead.

He decided to set up AGL Communications to support them and help them discover who they really were and what they really stood for.

His idea was that, if executives could remove the corporate mask and personalise, humanise and dramatise their communication, they would become better, more thoughtful and more inspirational leaders.

Sadly, Gordon Lennox died in 2017 after a short illness, but his legacy lives on at AGL, which is coaching high-grade executives around the world using a combination of artistic and scientific techniques. The company now has a team of 20 coaches, drawn from a range of backgrounds including consulting, the media and the arts – and a broad client base, including many blue-chips from the FTSE 100.

“Our key difference is that we work from the inside out to help leaders make the most of their strengths,” says chief executive Dan Leatherdale. “Firstly, we build confidence and resilience to reinforce core leadership attitudes, values and purpose. Then we look towards the outward-facing, and a leader’s actions, skills and behaviours. We help them to understand what it’s like to be on the receiving end of their communication.”

Coaches will discuss a leader’s attitudes and beliefs, and how these might be shaping how they engage with others

He says this approach helps leaders utilise what they have on the inside to impact on what they want to see on the world around them.

The AGL model of leadership, which has been created by in-house and external psychologists, helps with this approach.

It examines the difference someone wants to make to their organisation and the environment around them, and then assesses what they do and how they behave and how this is influenced by their values.

Coaches will also discuss a leader’s attitudes and beliefs, and how these might be shaping how they engage with others. And they are encouraged to draw on their inner sources of strength to be more self-aware and robust so that they sustain their own work and the morale of others.

Mr Leatherdale is a certified psychologist with degrees from Oxford and London who trained as an actor earlier in his career. He believes leaders need to be storytellers to fully connect with an audience. Being overprepared and too corporate can make us boring, he says, so in business we need help to unpick the mask and show more of ourselves.

“It takes a leap of faith sometimes to be in the moment and tell a story,” he says. “We coach leaders to be more confident and not to be afraid to be real, human and striking. If the people listening engage with them and believe their story, then trust is built.”

See the full article at the Telegraph Business Club here.

To read more about our founder Anthony Gordon Lennox click here.