Growing as a CTO

A common issue I hear being raised by clients and peers, is the constant need to reinvent yourself as a tech executive in a growing company. There are different kinds of CTOs or tech VPs (more on that in a different time), but no matter which one you are, you cannot keep doing the same thing forever.

The classic example is of the cofounder CTO that has been there since day one. Those first months required doing almost everything around the team, being aware of most decisions, actively being in the loop for every single discussion, etc.

And while that’s possible when there are only a handful of people on your team, it only gets harder as the company grows and evolves. I’ve seen too often the CTO that fails to accept this, struggling to keep up with everything.

A metaphor my clients are used to hearing is how you should perceive yourself as a rocket-ship. At the initial stages, you need to supply all the power and boost you can to achieve lift-off and escape velocity. Yet as you advance towards your destination, you have to start dropping the parts that have exhausted their fuel or you’ll fall right back down.

Instead of feeling like butter scraped over too much bread, you should be actively letting go of things that once made sense for you to do, but no longer do. Stop attending all meetings, let your directors take charge of certain aspects, take ownership of your day.

Being an amazing executive doesn’t mean you have to have your hand in every pot; it means creating a team that can take care of it while you’re thinking of next week’s specials. Do whatever you need to do that, or risk a spectacular failed launch.