The Chief Technology Officer is a coveted role and essential to the success of most modern businesses. So, what are the most sought after CTO skills?
What do job adverts say?
Looking at a sample of recently advertised CTO roles, over three quarters said it was essential applicants were ‘hands-on’, often giving very specific tech requirements down to years of experience with languages and frameworks. Many adverts were specifically looking for people with same sector knowledge, and almost all of them wanted experience in an Agile environment. Vision, strategy and managing the technical road map were also common keywords throughout the adverts.
Beyond tech skills
The role of the CTO is obviously much broader than writing code or setting technical direction, and while those skills may be easier to tick off a list; hiring the right CTO for your business involves a very different process to hiring other lead tech roles.
The first question you need to ask is what do you need from the CTO?
This will be dictated by several factors: the size of your business, the stability, whether your product or service is established, if you’re growing, shrinking, outsourcing or building a team etc. Candidates will need a range of skills beyond their technical knowledge, things like:
Energy and enthusiasm: This speaks for itself. If your CTO is dynamic and keeps the engineering team energized, you’re onto a winner. If your CTO isn’t passionate about your product or service, chances are motivation and productivity will be lacking.
Clear communication: Your CTO will act as the linchpin between the tech function and wider business, so they need to communicate highly technical concepts in a way that all other stakeholders will understand.
Breadth of knowledge and a thirst for learning: Node.js or AWS may be the most common now, but technology changes fast. A CTO needs to be aware of their environment but not so tied to a language or platform that they become blind to emerging alternatives. The best tech experts commit to using the right tool for the job, not the tool they like most.
A commercial mindset: This doesn’t necessarily mean putting the numbers first, but more so putting the customer first. In doing so, they make sure that they’re always solving a relevant problem and holding true value.
Innovative leadership: Managing a team of talented tech professionals is a key part of the role, and growing that team will be too. Hiring someone that can motivate, inspire, encourage and empower their team is essential.
What should you consider?
With any C-level hire it’s important to revisit your core values as a company. Your CTO needs to be a champion of your values, someone who not only sets and maintains the standards but strives to raise them too. Finding someone who genuinely identifies with your company values will make for a much more successful hire.
As the tech landscape continues to evolve rapidly, it’s also important to consider candidates’ history of success. More importantly though, do they own their failures and can they articulate how they have learned from them?
Other valuable qualities to assess include things like:
Performing under pressure
Adaptability and change management
Emotional intelligence (empathy, self-awareness, self-regulation, etc.)
A candidate assessment is a great tool that will give you key insight into to factors above. We offer a range of accredited, user-friendly assessments that take as little as 20 minutes to complete, generating a range of different reports that can help structure a constructive conversation around candidate strengths and potential limitations.
Your CTO will engage with a wide range of stakeholders, and manage complicated relationships not just within the tech team but across the business, so it’s crucial that you get the right person in place.