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Understanding the CEO-CTO relationship

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By Deepak Singh Ahlawat

A Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is the most senior officer who oversees the overall operations of an organisation to ensure the successful management of the business. A CTO (Chief Technology Officer), on the other hand, is a senior executive whose role is to focus on an organisation’s technical mission and technological requirements to help it grow externally.

In simple words, a CEO leads an organisation, whereas a CTO leads the organisation’s technical staff. Since both CEO and CTO bear a lot of responsibilities, the relationship between CEO and CTO is something clients and employees look forward to in any organisation.

Deepak Singh Ahlawat, CEO and Founder, Purple Quarter

Importance of hiring the right CTO

The success of an organisation depends not only on the healthy relationship between the subordinates but also on the rapport that top-level executives share among themselves. The CEO and CTO of an organisation are equally responsible for taking their products and services to the next level; thus, they should work in partnership to take the organisation to new levels of success in the long run. Therefore, if you want your business to prosper, you should hire a CTO who understands your business thoroughly.

In recent times, the position of CTO is the most in-demand, and also the most difficult position to fill. A perfect CEO-CTO relationship benefits an organisation in the following ways :

* The culture and structure of the organisation changes for better;

* All the departments start getting fruitful results;

* Customers get satisfied with the quality of products and services delivered by the organisation

How to foster a healthy CEO-CTO relationship?

Understand each other’s role: The CEO and the CTO of a company should be aware of each other’s strengths. Both should genuinely respect each other’s roles, responsibilities and capabilities.

Foster the spirit of cooperation: A CEO should understand the objectives that the CTO has to accomplish. Similarly, a CTO should be aware of the CEO’s goals, and the hindrances they need to overcome together. CTOs should not limit themselves to the technical aspects of a company, but also add value to marketing, finance and all other aspects that the CEO handles. For example, the CEO is generally not aware of when and how to indulge with new clients, but the CTO should know how to handle this situation adeptly.

Encourage smooth flow of communication: A CEO and his CTO should have each other’s backs. There should be no room for any communication gap between them; and even if there are any, an efficient CTO is expected to fill the gap.

Company leaders have to deal with lots of complexities for growth; that’s when a CTO and CEO should work collectively to gain multiple benefits. To avoid a panic situation, CEOs should hire CTOs who understand how the organisation functions, and let the relationship between the CEO and CTO flourish. If a CTO or CEO unknowingly messes up, instead of blaming each other, they should work alongside, and take the bullet for each other when any one of them messes up.

A CTO can become one of the biggest assets of an organisation, only if he/she works collaboratively with the CEO. To this end, the CEO should value the CTO’s contribution and provide them with ample opportunities and freedom to grow intellectually without second-guessing them; similarly, the CTO should work closely with the CEO to steer the organisation in the right direction.

(The author, Deepak Singh Ahlawat, is CEO and Founder, Purple Quarter – a CTO recruitment startup)

If you have an interesting article / experience / case study to share, please get in touch with us at [email protected]


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