The (Secret) Skill of An Excellent CTO

pikwizard-5de36436c906b4b5e7196102c2eb12e5 (1)
photo by Authentic Images

Whether a business is looking for, or already has a CTO, there’s one underestimated skill that should be taken into account. CTO stands for Chief Technology Officer and the referenced skill is a high level of focus. Before explaining why focus is so important, let’s examine the role of a CTO within a business.

What is a CTO’s Role?

A Chief Technology Officer oversees the business-to-customer relationship. Essentially, he or she ensures that what the business produces satisfies the customer. They will monitor the developer or development team on the project and deliver the finished product to the customer. CTOs typically have either a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a math or computer science-related field. Additionally, this person must be able to handle a supervisory role within the company and communicate exceptionally well with the other employees.

Since CTOs have that supervisory role, they should also be aware of the development process in order to properly observe a project’s development. Helping a team make decisions on the production of a project is another one of a CTO’s roles. This ties in with the high level of focus previously mentioned.

CTOs & Startups

In the case of startup businesses, CTOs play an even more significant role. Since new companies are focused on gaining clients and exposure, CTOs may need to step in to help delegate where the company’s focus should be. The finances and available resources are much smaller for a new business, meaning it’s crucial to dedicate them appropriately to maximize their effectiveness.

Attention to unnecessary details on a development project could severely hinder a startup since it would use up time and resources. Thus, the CTO must step in to instruct the team on where to divide their time. This also takes the pressure off of the CEO who should devote their focus to the company’s goals instead of a single project.

A significant problem many startups bring on themselves is spreading attention to too many tasks or elements of a project. This could result in a ‘finished’ product that isn’t satisfactory to the client because it doesn’t do what they asked. The intense focus on a few elements is equally detrimental. Excellent CTOs help businesses avoid that. They understand what the development team needs to focus on and can direct them to the appropriate tasks. Of course, if the team needs constant assistance, that may be the result of an entirely different problem.


In a sense, CTOs serve as a mentor when they are needed. They ensure the business is on track on a project basis while keeping its goals in mind. CTOs must be knowledgeable about the industry, the business they work for, the strengths and weaknesses of the development team, the desires of the client, and the know-how to get the project from foundation to a finished product.

An excellent CTO, however, is only as good as he or she is willing to be. Startup businesses, in particular, should be careful in choosing their CTO—and they should hire one. The difference between a competent CTO and an excellent one is the focus he or she has on what a company could be, not what it currently is.