6 Key Skills Every CTO Must Have

What does it take to become an awesome CTO?

If that’s one of your dreams or perhaps you are already a tech leader looking to improve your impact, you should definitely give this a read!


1. Future Technology should keep you awake!

We are not talking about your technical ability but now you have to become a technical visionary. When you reach senior roles you have to step away from the keyboard, delegate the code and give yourself the space and permission to understand what is on the horizon.

You need to be ahead of the competition in where your technological capabilities need to be, it’s what your company and CEO will expect of you.

Every company is a technology company these days and the range and quality of tech grows at an accelerated rate, so if you’re not reading up on the trends and understanding what is hype and what is not you will miss out on ideating and applying the same in your product.


2. Team Building and People Management

CTO Academy recently conducted a series of interviews with tech leaders from around the world and many spoke about the key qualities of effective leaders being the softer skills.

Skills like empathy, emotional intelligence and adopting a coaching mindset.

When you’re a senior tech leader other people’s problems become your problems if they impact your team so you need to build a skill set in how to manage and communicate with people.

You also have to develop the skills of how to find the best talent and right fit for your organisation. You have to understand and recognise competence ahead of confidence, not the other way round.

Tech Leaders who get the job done are great at building teams for a common purpose. Finding, recruiting and inspiring talented people to become greater than the sum of their parts.


3. Build Lean and Validated Products

Tech teams can no longer build what they like and hope for the best. Product development must be led by market demand and validation which means as CTO you have to be outward facing and understand intimately what value the customers needs and get from your products.

This might seem strange but away from the tech team, you need to be closest to customer service because they’re the people getting direct feedback from the customer about what works and importantly, what sucks.

You need to have a lean mindset in terms of how you build and iterate based directly on the validation of those that matter, your customers.


4. You are no CTO if you don’t Hustle and Communicate!

Have you ever wondered what happens in the brain-storming sessions of the research and development wing of a company? There are strong fights, usual arguments and to top it all off, there is always a tussle between the development team and the analyst team and the marketing team, and it can get bloody.

As CTO you’re representing the technology side of your business and often dealing with non-technologist colleagues, including the CEO, who need to understand in simple language what can and can’t be built.

As a tech leader you will need to negotiate any conflict, act as a bridge between the tech team and other stakeholders and try to ensure a smooth flow of communication.

You have to negotiate and hustle for almost everything and that can only be achieved by learning the art of listening and effective communication. 


5. The Art Of Delegation

You cannot do everything, you cannot micro manage, you will go mad. This is where CTO as a service comes into play.

You need to learn the art of delegation, of recruiting good people and then giving them sufficient space and support to work autonomously.

Without creating that distance and trust you will scare away good people and drive yourself into the ground.

You have to move away from the keyboard, from the back-end, from hiding in the shadows and build a team you can trust and who can release you to deliver the value add that makes the job and drives your impact.


6. You will have to multi-task diligently.

If you want to be just like any of the top Tech Leaders of the world, you will have to at least walk in their shoes, for a day to understand what they go through daily and the amount of hustle they do to reach where they are now. It is not a myth that most of the Tech leaders start their day early and clock up to 130 hours a week.

Multi-Tasking and smart prioritization of work are just some of the coolest tricks, which they have up their sleeves to ensure the fact that work is being done on time and they are able to commit to deadlines so that the team can also deliver their 100%!

If you think you have or can develop all these, no one can stop you from taking a place among the tech leaders of the world.


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