Being the most senior engineer doesn't make you a CTONot every company, especially early on, needs a "real" CTO.
Brand new startups often slap a CTO title on the end of the name of their most technical co-founder. And while that probably makes sense for optics, to facilitate discussions with outside parties, including potential investors… a title alone does not a CTO make.
Bing a great programmer does not a CTO make.
Being a great systems architect does not a CTO make.
Years of technical experience does not a CTO make.
Broad technical knowledge does not a CTO make.
Building a vast technical solution alone does not a CTO make.
All of these things are great, in the right contexts, of course. And they may even be essential for business success. But they don’t make a CTO.
What does make a CTO?
Well, a CTO is a company executive officer. This means they’re involved in making business strategy decisions, set policy, and generally guide the company.
Building an app isn’t any of these things. Knowing Kubernetes inside and out isn’t any of these things.
Of course, some people build apps and also act as an executive officer. In early startups, one may be required to wear two (or more) hats like this.
But very often, I see small startups with no “real” CTO. They have a senior engineer, architect, or other technical person wearing that title, but they aren’t making strategic or policy decisions.
But here’s the thing: That’s okay!
Or at least, it’s often okay.
Not every company, especially early on, needs a CTO. Or at least not a “real” CTO.
The concept of servant leadership is heavily watered down, compared to our original examples.
Improve your software delivery