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Top 9 Ways to Distinguish a Bad CTO from a Great CTO

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What is the secret behind a successful software startup? Our answer would simply be to have a great CTO at your disposal. Perhaps now you are wondering, what actually makes a CTO great? If you are looking for qualities or you are wanting to know how to become a great CTO yourself, you are in the right place. In this article, we will go into the top 9 points to look out for when searching for or trying to become, a great CTO.

Firstly, for a moment, let’s take the technicalities out of the way. If you’re new to this line of work, chances are, you’re still wondering what a CTO is. Fret not, we’re here to explain.

For the essential growth of a company, especially a startup, the Chief Technology Officer’s role ensures consistent support with the business strategy. They are equipped with technical skills, usually acquired during previous work experiences, and sometimes have either a computer science or engineering degree. Venture Capitalists will be more inclined to invest money into a startup if it can show that it has a good track record and a competent CTO and development team.

It is hard to put into words what a CTO job description is because they are considered a jack of all trades in the company. Sometimes they work on the development of the product but then may shift to managing a team and making strategic technical decisions. In short, your Chief Technology Officer helps you turn your idea into an actual product. Therefore, in this article, we will walk you through the traits of what makes a great startup CTO.

Are you ready? Let’s get started.

1. A Great CTO is a Strategic Decision Maker

Whether it’s reorganizing the development team, preparing a presentation for a potential investor, or migrating the technology infrastructure, your CTO is the one who would be making such decisions. Both in the long-run and the short-run, the CTO is responsible for technological and business decisions.

The decisions are based on experience and skill sets, which brings us to our next point.

A Great CTO is a Strategic Decision Maker and Has Real-World Experience

2. A Great CTO Has Real-World Experience

Along with outstanding CTO skills, experience also comes hand-in-hand. Managing a team as well as guiding through the technical strategies are both important when making technical decisions. They should also be up to date on growing tech trends and emerging technologies. An experienced CTO is more likely to help structure the growth of the company through their leadership traits.

3. A Great CTO Has the Ability to Articulate Well

The CTOs need to keep up with the latest trends and breakthroughs in technology while keeping an eye on the market’s reaction. To make this work properly, a CTO has to have the rhetoric to convey the findings to the rest of their team and customers. 

A great CTO will be able to communicate complex topics to a broader audience including their peers, stakeholders, and non-tech savvy counterparts as well as their clients and customers who also need inspiration and coaching towards the new technology’s importance. 

4. A Great CTO Has An Eye for Design

Sorry to burst your bubble, but great CTO qualities include seeing beyond the coding language.

Your apps and sites might load to be the fastest, and you might as well be making use of the latest technologies, but nothing can beat the power of a sleek design. Therefore, great CTOs can understand the creation of computing infrastructure. They usually have some experience in being a UX designer but also develop strategies for their product designers. It’s always the CTO who makes it look and work innovatively.

A Great CTO Has An Eye for Design, Knows how to Articulate Well, and knows when not to code

5. A Great CTO Knows When and When Not to Code

You might be surprised about hearing this, but not all CTOs know how to code.

However, CTO skills do include prolific development. A great CTO will know when to dig into the business on a given project and delegate their team members on the nitty-gritty stuff. The developer team’s size determines the balance, but the CTO has an eye on the bigger picture.

6. A Great CTO Has Technical Business Insights

Of course, CTO deliverables include technological insights, but it wouldn’t bear much fruit without business insights. Not every latest technology is a perfect fit for the company. Many fads have come and gone within the digital realm, but only an experienced CTO can discern the meaning changes in a business. If a CTO has an excellent ability to put together a plan of action, it will impress clients and be ROI positive. 

Indeed, sometimes it’s difficult to predict whether the technology will be a hit or miss. Here’s when the CTO needs to have a broad understanding of how it would help the company and its stakeholders. A disconnection between business insights and the CTO’s technological and business mind will invite problems. 

7. A Great CTO Uses A Strategic Approach

Again, CTOs must focus on the bigger picture, not just the individual lines of code. An important part of their job is to find out the balance, whereby technical strategies match overall business strategies.

A huge red flag is when a CTO insists on applying their own code to do a task. While other departments might be pressing on using a particular mobile app, the CTO may need to sacrifice their ego, and love of the right code to execute individual decisions.

A Great CTO Has Technical Business Insights, Uses A Strategic Approach, and Has Exceptional Communication Skills

8. A Great CTO Has Exceptional Communication Skills

Most companies often miss out on this very important detail. A great CTO is able to translate processes, technologies, and workflows between non-tech people and techies. They must communicate about certain technical choices to their stakeholders, which possibly affects business goals. Satisfying the demands of your clients, VCs, and partners streamlines communications and ensuring that the project moves in the right direction. 

9. A Great CTO Has a Large Network of Connections

This does not translate to knowing everything or everyone. A CTO having great connections implies that they can fill in the gaps in their knowledge, effortlessly, if they need the extra manpower or have other technical requirements that they cannot fill themselves. This may sound misleading, but here’s an example of what might happen:

Imagine your company requires an urgent iOS programmer. Instead of withstanding the arduous process of hiring a full-time developer, stirring someone from the trusted contacts could be a life savior. Therefore, a CTO’s network usually includes trusted development firms, consultants, and engineers who can answer niche questions.

Rocketloop CTO as a Service

Fazit

You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover and this also holds true for CTOs. One candidate may not have all 9 out of 9 qualities, but can still do what is needed to do well in a company. Leading their team, knowing exactly when to get their hands dirty, always making a turn towards the latest technology, and delegating, are only a few of the important characteristics of great CTOs. Not all CTOs are perfect, but some are definitely better and more qualified than others. If you are trying to be the best CTO you can be or, adversely, are choosing a CTO for your company, the above qualities are a solid foundation to start building upon.

However, finding the perfect CTO can take a lot of money and time. By using Rocketloop’s CTO as a Service, you are able to start working on your product development fast, without needing to spend time hiring. While working on your product, we search for your ideal CTO, train your development team, then once everything is under your control, we seamlessly move responsibilities to you.

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