Even the most successful executives in the tech industry can sometimes feel like they don’t belong. 

This nagging doubt is called imposter syndrome, and it’s more common than you might think. Recent research suggests 82% of people experience imposter syndrome at some point in their careers. 

For tech executives, these feelings can be particularly intense. You’re expected to innovate, lead, and make impactful decisions daily. But when self-doubt creeps in, it can undermine your confidence and effectiveness.

What is Imposter Syndrome?

Understanding imposter syndrome is the first step in managing it. It’s not just about feeling inadequate; it’s about the disconnect between how you perceive yourself and how others perceive you. Recognizing that you’re not alone in this can be a powerful motivator. Many top leaders—even probably the ones you admire—have faced similar feelings and overcome them.

The Importance of Building Confidence as a Leader

Building confidence as a leader is crucial for any executive, especially in the tech industry. Confidence allows you to make decisions more effectively, lead your team with conviction, and inspire those around you. As Ruben Harris, CEO of Career Karma, said in a Powderkeg podcast, “The first thing that you have to do is develop a certain level of confidence in yourself. You have to convince yourself first that you’re capable.”

Why is building confidence as a leader so important? Without it, you may hesitate to take necessary risks, miss opportunities for growth, and struggle to assert your ideas. Confidence doesn’t mean you won’t have doubts or face challenges, but it does mean you’ll be better equipped to handle them. 

Why Confidence as a Leader Matters

Building confidence as a leader isn’t just a nice-to-have; it’s a must for effective leadership. When you’re confident, you can communicate more clearly, inspire your team, and navigate the inevitable ups and downs of running a tech company. Confidence helps you to project authority and competence, making it easier for others to trust and follow you.

Ruben Harris also pointed out, “What I often see is a lot of people when they’re in the job search, or even in companies, they haven’t convinced themselves. And if you can’t convince yourself, you’re not going to convince other people that you’re capable. And I’m not saying that the doubt will never go away, or the imposter syndrome will ever go away. But you have to start with you. And it sounds hard, but that’s actually the easier part. If you can convince yourself, then everything else starts changing.”

So, how do you build this essential confidence as a leader and manage imposter syndrome? Here are eight actionable strategies from Powderkeg Executive Council members and leaders in the tech community that can help you overcome these feelings and lead with assurance.

How to Build Confidence as a Leader: 12 Ways Executives Manage Imposter Syndrome

1. Why Not You? Conquer Imposter Syndrome with a Simple Reminder

A podcast host I love shared a quip from her grandmother that I repeat any time I feel imposter syndrome creeping in: “Bigger dummies than you.” It sounds a little silly, but there are plenty of people out there who aren’t as smart, capable, experienced, or passionate who have managed to get where you are now or where you want to be. So why not you? (And, why not me!?)

Robin Lanning, VP Sales & Marketing at Tactive

2. Overcome Inner Negative Voices by Talking to Yourself About Your Worth 

I recall a former CEO saying, “We’re all just waiting to be exposed for the frauds we know we are.” It hit hard. It was the first time I became aware of my imposter syndrome. That same CEO was also a verbally abusive bully, and I took that abuse personally. An exec coaching friend said, “You realize that behavior has nothing to do with you, right?” And that was the start of my journey of self-talk to counter the inner negative voice. Talk to yourself about your worth; it comes from within!

Joseph Loria, Founder & CEO of RetentionCX

3. Make Sure You Get Enough Sleep

Get enough sleep – cognitive dissonance is often exacerbated by lack of sleep and the stress that follows.

Jesper Kehlet, Founder & CEO of CuroGens



4. Use the Priming Technique to Transform Your Mindset

I use a technique that Tony Robbins taught me. It’s called “priming” and I use it to transform my mindset. By intentionally adjusting my thoughts and emotions, I set a tone of productivity and power for the day. This practice, deeply rooted in psychology, primes my responses towards positivity and success. It’s a ritual that keeps me from reacting to life and it allows me to proactively shape my experiences and outcomes. Priming is my tool for mastering emotions and manifesting my aspirations.

Brad Bichey, CEO at Nemedic

5. Reflect on Past Successes and Seek Support

In my experience, addressing impostor syndrome (self-doubt) and maintaining self-confidence and mental well-being involves a combination of self-reflection, seeking support, and focusing on achievements.

For example, whenever I start doubting my abilities or feel like I don’t belong, I remind myself of my past successes and accomplishments. This helps me recognize my skills and the value I bring to my role.

I also make sure to surround myself with a supportive network of mentors, peers, and friends who understand the challenges of the tech industry. Talking openly with them about my experiences and fears helps to normalize impostor syndrome and gain perspective.

Self-reflection is crucial as well. I take time to acknowledge and challenge my negative thoughts and self-talk. By reframing negative self-perceptions and recognizing that feeling like an impostor is common, I can build a stronger sense of self-confidence.

Gauri Manglik, CEO and Co-Founder, Instrumentl

6. Seek Evidence of Success 

For the vast majority of tech executives, you have earned the right to be where you are. Unless you’re a family member of other executives at the company, it’s rare that you would accidentally stumble into a senior leadership role. It took me two years with an executive coach to truly understand that ‘I deserve to be in the room,’ but I internalized that idea by looking for evidence of my success rather than looking for evidence of being an imposter. That change in mindset and intentional thought process has helped eliminate some (not all) of the self-doubt I experience as a tech executive.

Logan Mallory, Vice President of Marketing, Motivosity

7. Write Letters from Your Future Self

This might sound strange, but I have written letters from my future self (three to five years into the future) and read them every morning. My future self has accomplished all of my goals and is writing back to encourage me that it is possible, and to give me advice and guidance for the journey. 

When I find myself facing self-doubt or imposter syndrome, I often ask, ‘What would my future self do in this situation?’ This almost always sheds new light on the situation and helps put it into perspective. 

I also focus on measuring ‘backward,’ meaning: focusing on the progress that has been made since yesterday, and not measuring against an ideal for what today could have looked like. As long as progress was made since yesterday, it was a great day, and one both I and my future self can be proud of.

Grant Hensel, CEO, Nonprofit Megaphone

8. Focus on Others’ Success and Faith

Navigating the treacherous waters of impostor syndrome is something I have encountered both in my personal journey and through the founding and development of Stay Here, my mental health organization. One effective approach I’ve adopted is the intentional focus on others’ success as a reflection of my own. By equipping individuals with the resources and support to overcome moments of despair, each person we help serves as a testament to the impact of my work. This perspective shift from self-doubt to service has been instrumental in fostering a healthier mindset. 

Moreover, grounding myself in my faith and the purpose behind my actions has been a cornerstone strategy. When faced with self-doubt, I often reflect on the broader mission of providing hope and tangible help to those in pain. This reflection not only diminishes feelings of impostor syndrome but also reaffirms my commitment and belief in the significance of my work. It’s a technique I recommend to others: finding a mission or purpose that transcends personal success or failure can provide a sturdy anchor amidst the storms of self-doubt.

Jacob Coyne, Founder, Stay Here

9. Keep a Success Journal

To address impostor syndrome and maintain my self-confidence, I’ve adopted the practice of keeping a ‘success journal.’ Every day, I jot down small victories, positive feedback, and moments when I felt competent and skilled. This habit helps me construct a tangible record of my accomplishments and the value I bring to my work, which I can refer to whenever self-doubt creeps in. It’s a powerful reminder that my feelings of inadequacy are not the full story. I recommend this practice to anyone struggling with self-doubt, as it provides a personal testament to your capabilities and progress.

Phil Strazzulla, Founder, SelectSoftware Reviews

10. Ground Actions in Data-Driven Results

Impostor syndrome can be a significant barrier, particularly in the fast-paced world of digital marketing and e-commerce, where I have spent much of my career crafting strategies for success. The feeling of not being good enough or doubting your achievements can be a common experience, and I too have faced these challenges. My approach to combating these feelings is deeply rooted in continuous learning and validation through measurable outcomes.

One effective method I employ is grounding my actions in data-driven results. For instance, by watching the performance metrics of campaigns I’ve managed or websites I’ve developed, I can see tangible evidence of my work’s impact. This not only helps in boosting self-confidence but also serves as a concrete reminder that my contributions are valuable. Seeing the growth in client satisfaction, increased website traffic, or improved search engine rankings as a direct result of my actions provides a factual basis to counter any feelings of self-doubt.

Moreover, building a community has been pivotal in reassuring me of my capabilities. Sharing experiences with peers, learning from their journeys, and receiving feedback has been instrumental in my personal and professional growth. This sense of community fosters an environment where learning from failures is seen as an opportunity for growth, and success is celebrated together. My advice to others facing impostor syndrome is to lean into the expertise of those around you, seek out measurable results to validate your efforts, and remember that continual learning is a sign of strength, not weakness.

Kevin Watts, President & Founder, Raincross

11. Share Goals for Accountability and Growth

I overcome this through radical transparency. I share private data from our business with key contacts and friends to keep myself accountable and grounded. Specifically, I tell everyone my goals, even around things so personal as to how much money I want to make, and I have truly found it to be transformative. By saying it out loud, first of all, I have to be reasonable and grounded, but then the repetition drills it in deeper and deeper for me until my brain reverse-engineers pathways to achieve those goals.

Jordan Hollander, CEO, HotelTechReport

12. Focus on Continuous Learning and Skills

Impostor syndrome is something I’ve grappled with in my tech career. To maintain self-confidence and mental well-being, I’ve found it essential to focus on continuous learning and skill improvement. Instead of dwelling on self-doubt, I channel that energy into staying updated with industry trends and acquiring new skills. This proactive approach not only boosts my confidence but also keeps me competitive in the ever-evolving tech landscape. It’s about embracing growth and using it to combat impostor syndrome.

Daniel Lynch, President & Owner, Empathy First Media

Unlock Your Leadership: Build Confidence as a Leader and Lead with Conviction

Building confidence as a leader is an ongoing journey. The more you practice these strategies, the more natural it will become to lead with assurance and inspire those around you. Trust in your abilities, celebrate your successes, and remember that everyone experiences doubt. What sets successful leaders apart is their ability to manage that doubt and keep moving forward.

By focusing on these strategies, you can build the confidence necessary to excel in your leadership role. With time and practice, you’ll find that confidence as a leader becomes second nature, helping you inspire and guide your team to new heights.

This post was contributed to by members of Powderkeg Executive Councils, the only private membership network designed exclusively for tech companies and executives looking to grow and connect beyond the confines of Silicon Valley. Apply today to join.