by Jinesh Parekh, CEO of Ruby on Rails consulting shop, Idyllic Software
Hey there, you amazingly resourceful person. You’re doing everything. You’re coding, testing, fixing issues and managing people.
Cheers to you!
You’re the CTO. And you shouldn’t be coding. Wait. Before you berate me, I did not say you shouldn’t know how to code. You definitely have to know how to write good code but really, is that what you should be doing? No.
The lies you tell yourself to feel better about it:
1. You believe you’re the greatest coder in the world and what you do can never be replicated by anyone else.
Ok, so maybe you do write jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring, magical code. But hey, nobody likes a know-it-all! Unless you let the people who work under you, do what they’re supposed to, you’ll never know what they’re capable of. The greatest leaders know what should be delegated and when to let go. Learn to trust the people you work with, to not mess things up. Making someone responsible for something is the best way to inspire respect and admiration.
2. You want to be liked. You think people will not respect you if you don’t contribute technically.
You think you have to contribute lines of code. You think you need to test every change. You think you have to question every addition and analyze every check-in.
You don’t. As a CTO, you have a whole new set of responsibilities to take care of that do not involve coding. You cannot do everything and you shouldn’t have to. As your team grows, the time you can devote to coding will reduce significantly. What you do need to understand is: you don’t have to prove your technical prowess to gain respect. Trust me. You’re only getting in the way of your team, if you do.
3. You feel like you’ll lose control of your product, if you don’t code.
It’s natural to feel unconnected to something you are not a part of. What you can do to feel more in control, yet not get involved in actual coding:
● Instead of writing code, learn how to read it. It’s an entirely different skill and a very useful one.
● Figure out a process, that works for you, to access a dev environment and test a recently added change as fast as possible.
4. You think you can do everything.
A large part of working as a team is assuming responsibility for your actions. Imagine you fixed a bug on Tuesday. And then, you were unavailable to answer queries regarding the fix for the next two days because you had to travel out of the city to meet with a client. If you aren’t present to take responsibility, no one will blame you because you’re essentially the boss. But a lot of unnecessary effort and time will go into analyzing something that could’ve been easily dealt with if you were around.
5. You’re the boss. Nobody minds if you interfere.
Not true. They do mind. They might not say it but you are stepping on someone’s toes every time you try to take control of a situation of which you’re not the owner. The only time you need to step in and assume responsibility is when things look like they might go south. Do not do it because your ego is at stake. Do not do it because you want credit.
6. You like to write code and that’s the only reason why you’re keeping at it.
Poor you. You just want to do the fun stuff, don’t you? One reason why you’re the CTO, is obviously because you’re good at what you do. And best of all, you like it. You like coding and you want to keep doing it. You want to keep writing code for the product you represent. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Your team is doing the dirty work, so it’s time you sat up and took responsibility for everything else. That’s right. There are worlds outside the technical realm that only you can take care of.
If you are a CTO and wondering if you’re not doing enough technically, don’t feel bad about it. You’re focusing on all the right things and doing all the essential work needed to take your business to the next level.
You’re on the right track, my friend. Just keep going.
Jinesh Parekh is the CEO of a Ruby on Rails consulting shop, Idyllic Software. Though Ruby on Rails development is their forte as part of building MVPs, Idyllic Software primarily acts as technology partners with businesses to speed up their web and mobile development requirements. You can reach Jinesh at jparekh [at] idyllicsoftware [dot] com. Find Jinesh on Google and LinkedIn.