You're a CTO.
You run the show.
People look to you for direction and leadership.
You've got a big job, but it's also one of the most exciting careers out there. You get to be at the forefront of technology, defining how the world around us will work in the future.
But with this much responsibility comes great opportunity for failure: As a CTO, it's easy to get caught up in your own ego or lose sight of who you were when you started out as an engineer or coder.
That's why I'm here today: To remind all of us what it means to be a true leader and remind all CTOs that they need to keep their feet on solid ground if they want their dreams not just attainable but achievable too!
As a CTO, it's easy to get caught up in mental traps.
These traps can take many forms, but they all have the same thing in common:
They lead you toward decisions that are bad for your company.
Here are 10 common pitfalls we've seen people fall into over the years as CEO and CTO:
It's important to have a vision, but it's even more important to listen. Your team and your customers are the ones who will be executing on your vision. They'll be the ones who determine whether or not you've succeeded at building what they need.
So while it's critical that you have a clear idea of where you want to go, don't rely solely on yourself for that vision; instead, make sure you're listening to all stakeholders and customer feedback.
Keep the customers in the feedback loop.
You need to be confident in the people you hire.
This can be hard, especially if you aren’t familiar with their work history or background.
But if you don’t give yourself permission to trust their abilities and allow them to do their jobs without micromanaging them, you run the risk of alienating them and losing the ability to get buy-in from your team on larger company goals.
Be open to new ideas and new ways of doing things.
When you’re the CTO, you know your company and its customers better than anyone. You have to be a visionary for the business and determine where it should go next.
If your company is going after the same customers as another company, then it might make sense to focus on them in your marketing campaigns or even hire away some talent from that competitor.
But otherwise, don't waste time worrying about what they're doing because if they're not thinking about you first, then they probably aren't coming up with ways to beat you out of a job in five years' time.
We're all familiar with the concept of hubris, that sense of pride that makes a person overconfident and self-assured. This can be good in some situations, but it can also be dangerous for the CTO trying to manage a team.
A CTO who is too confident will come off as dismissive and arrogant, which can alienate people from her team. If you find yourself constantly saying "I know", or insisting on your own opinion even when others disagree with it, this is an issue worth addressing!
The best way to avoid this trap? Make sure you're asking for feedback from other people on your ideas before moving forward with them which brings us back around to the point about listening.
This is a dangerous trap to fall into because it's all too easy to justify shortcuts and quick fixes as "tech debt" rather than admit they are bad code that should be refactored.
Tech debt is not a good thing, but sometimes it is necessary in order for you to get your product out the door quickly.
The danger here is that if you let tech debt pile up without addressing it, you'll end up with so much of this "bad" code that the cost of cleaning it all up outweighs the benefits of getting your product faster.
The result is that your product suffers from poor quality and low maintainability because its core functionality wasn't built with care from the start.
Autonomy is important, but don't forget to collaborate.
We've all heard the saying “too many cooks spoil the broth.” That's because when there are too many people involved in a project, it can end up being disorganised mess that goes nowhere.
But what if you're not working on something as simple as cooking soup? How do you know if your team has too many cooks? The answer depends on what type of work you're doing and how much autonomy each person needs to be effective at their job.
For example, some projects call for extensive collaboration between departments and teams, while others require more autonomy (and thus less collaboration). When deciding whether or not your team has too many cooks, consider how much autonomy each person needs in order to do their job effectively—and then try to find ways for everyone in the company to get just enough of both!
As a CTO, your job is to write code.
You're not a product manager; you're the person who manages developers.
It's not your job to manage projects or make sure people have enough free time or any of that stuff (though those things will inevitably come up).
Your job is literally just to write code and be responsible for the technological aspects of what you're working on the technology itself, as well as how it fits into the business model and meets user needs.
It's important for every CTO to understand their own strengths and weaknesses and what they need from their team in order to succeed. If something isn't coming naturally for you, find someone who can help fill in those gaps so that you can focus on where your talents lie: writing code!
When you get promoted to a new role, it's easy to get carried away by the power and influence that come with that position. You'll suddenly feel like you're capable of doing anything and everything, which can be a dangerous mindset.
Remember what got you there in the first place.
If it wasn't luck or chance, then it was hard work and dedication both of which are still required for success in any given role.
Don't lose sight of who you are as an individual!
Be honest with yourself about your strengths, weaknesses, and limitations as they relate to each new task at hand (and remember: just because someone else has already tried something doesn't mean they succeeded).
As a CTO, you might feel like the world is your oyster.
You’re in charge of your own destiny and can do whatever you want!
But there are limits to this freedom: when you’re in the throes of an innovation project, it may be tempting to throw caution to the wind and push through on sheer willpower alone.
But remember that no amount of passion or drive will substitute for a clear plan or vision—and if these things aren't already part of your routine, now's exactly when they should become so.