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CTO – a Coder and the Smartest Guy in the Company?

As a CTO, you’re balancing between doing business and coding.

Ideally, you should know something about technology and, at the same time, be a great communicator and project manager to create the right work environment and reach your goals. Consider finding a way that directs you through tech and biz.

When focusing on a vision, a CTO communicates with developers, management, and the “outside world”. Thus, the Chief Technology Officer has to try to find a balance between being the smartest tech guy and a business leader.

Essentially, a successful CTO is a visionary and manager making right technology decisions and striving for:

  • a startup’s growth,
  • a scalable product,
  • a lean team.

Be the guy who has the voice in tech

CTOs should review technology, consider different options and support their teams in delivering products on time. It’s not good when a CTO is completely green and relies just on engineers’ advice because it can be dictated by their comfort zone and fear of exploring new solutions. You have to be the one who’s able to estimate the risk and performance levels.

Try rolling up your sleeves a little and developing some coding skills to manage your team in a smart way. We also highly recommend reading blog posts.

Here’s a list of the most popular posts from 2017 about Node.js, React, and the whole JavaScript – enjoy! 🙂

You need to be the one who’s spotting the talented developers and also communicating with them to earn their respect and build a digital product.

I compel CTOs worldwide, no matter your discipline, to get your hands dirty with the technologies you are evaluating.

– Bill Bodin, CTO at Kony

Focus on your business, develop awareness!

Remember to network and meet as many tech people as possible. If you’re more of a technical guy, don’t worry! Now it’s easier than ever to learn business and build leadership understanding with workshops, free/paid webinars and various conferences.

Especially, when you’re a developer leading a startup, you’ll realize the need to be professional in many other fields.

Roles of the CTO.

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Find other CTOs on Facebook/LinkedIn Groups, attend events and startup meetings at least once a month.

And the most important thing – share awareness – be brave enough to talk about your new ideas and aspirations with others (also developers and engineers). Catch them at breaks or open discussions and ask for opinions. Maybe they’ll make you look at your approach/ idea/ managing differently. Bring advice in, analyze and draw conclusions.

In a role like this, it’s important that you offer support across marketing, design, customer service, it honestly doesn’t matter what it is! The tech is everywhere. If you as a CTO don’t understand the needs across the business, then you will potentially be making bad tech decisions too.

– Kristo Mägi, founder & CTO at Deekit

Be an artist in your company

The CTO of a startup, dealing with developers, can really be the true visionary, chef de la maison when it comes to database! Be the one with the perspective and abilities to make it real.

Come up with creative ideas that are realistic – you can do it by understanding the art of coding – only through that your team will achieve success.

Being that kind of CTO means promoting team culture, technical conduct, and multidimensional insight. It means that you have to create an environment where the product: meets your customer satisfaction and makes the devs proud.

8 do’s for every modern CTO

  1. Make friends with the technology you’re integrating in your projects. Try to understand it as best as you can. Learn. Constantly 🙂
  2. Pay attention to developing technology but not only in your area! Keep an eye on other industries (manufacturing, automotive, medicine). The idea behind this observation is guessing/predicting how your market will be transformed by those technologies.
  3. Ask your developers what they think about a particular approach, solution, technology. Consider their choices.
  4. Collaborate with the COO, developers and contractors, and learn their language.
  5. Try understanding how particular teams and units use the tools – is there any way of improving their efficiency?
  6. Be a true leader and artist in your team – accept diversity, learn flexibility and remember that technology is never fixed or permanent.
  7. Fill the gaps in your knowledge – both if you’re more a technical or more business type of a CTO.
  8. Pick a platform that will reduce the time to market for example to develop an MVP.

A CTO must understand the business idea behind the product.

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Final word

Let’s make it simpler – the primary job of the CTO is to make sure the company’s technology strategy serves its business goals.

I strongly believe that along with understanding technology, every CTO needs great understating of the business itself.

Only talented and dedicated CTOs are good at translating technical language into business and the other way round. Clear communication is often the core of keeping a project going.


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Matt Warcholinski

Matt Warcholinski is the COO of Brainhub (a software house building awesome node.js web and mobile apps) who loves to build startups and play guitar.

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