Imposter Much? How to Spin a Challenge to Your Authority

I’ve been a bit quiet around the Accidental Admin camp lately, partially because in addition to being an Accidental Admin I am also an accidental runner, training for my third half marathon. Of course, I was looking forward to tapering so I could get back to some of the things I love, like this space. But during this time, there was a challenge to my Admin authority that got me feeling like an imposter. For a moment, I might have thought about throwing in my Trailblazer hoodie and telling Tom to make a new logo without the “resident redhead”. Oh, boy.

It all started when a user questioned a business process put in place before they joined the organization. It was a simple question that when receiving my response about the process we had designed turned into a challenge to my authority – to the (paraphrased) tune of “I’ll show you how to use standard fields”.


Thankfully, this challenge didn’t come from my boss, but from an end user. I stewed on that for a while, carefully sipping my coffee that had long gone cold from my early morning start, supporting the rest of the users in my org.

There were a few things I could do. I could get snippy. I could pack my things and get my imposter self out of there as quickly as possible. But I didn’t.



Instead, I opened up to the conversation, lending a willing ear to hear what the challenge was really about. It turned out we were talking about the same things but in a different viewpoint, but it still got me wondering what to do the next time it comes up (because my guess is, it will).

If you’ve ever felt like an imposter, there are a few ways I’d suggest when you need to spin a challenge to your authority. Each one is, of course, dependent on your comfort level with the person who is doing the challenging.

  • Get clarity. Ask them to guide you through it. Sometimes there is a good lesson in hearing back how your end users see things. This gives you the opportunity to tackle the challenge head-on. And who knows – there may be something else going on in the challenger’s life that caused the wording to come off wrong.


  • Invite them to go along with you to your next User Group meeting. They’ll see that you are respected in your admin community just as much as they are in their role.


  • Ask them to lead a Lunch & Learn for others to share their knowledge on the subject. It doesn’t hurt to have someone else back you up – and it rings user adoption through the roof.


  • Ask them if they’ve ever considered doing what you do. You never know, you might have the next Accidental working alongside you.


But what you shouldn’t do is forget your worth. I’ve been doing this Admin thing for seven years now and rarely feel like I did that day, like a total imposter. But earlier this week, another colleague told me that telling them I needed to go back and do some research was respectful, that no one could be expected to be an expert at Salesforce and to do what I needed to do to get the information. It’s not always going to be that easy, but find an anchor in your worth and don’t lose hope. Someone saw a spark in you and that helped you get where you are.

Keeping rocking on, rock star!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *