Like so many skilled professionals, technologists are seemingly happiest doing what they know best: in their case, coding and developing new solutions to challenging problems.
But sometimes those of us in the CTO seat (chief technology officer) want more. As humans, we have a constant need to feel relevant, to know that our work has meaning. Also, I truly believe that in order to create a highly-functioning, fully-satisfied team, we technologists need to help one another become more aware of the contributions we make to our organizations, as well as society.
definition of a CTO describes an executive-level position focused on scientific and technological issues; there is no mention of leadership and team development. Yet, in fact, CTOs do have a responsibility as tech leaders to scale our organizations from a people perspective.
We should understand the impact that technology has on the market and our customers. We should invest the time and effort to connect our technology teams to our customers, ensuring that employees understand the context in which they work. We're also obliged as CTOs to grow and develop other leaders who have a strong sense of ownership, get stuff done daily for customers, won't stand for impediments and see that leadership development is both art and science.
And while “culture” may be an ambiguous term, I believe that that too has a role here too as simply the stories one tells every day: Spent the day complaining? Delivering? Helping others?
My approach has been to spend at least 50 percent of my time focused on team development to ensure that we reach our overall goals. Over the years, I’ve come across the following habits that help me ensure I am not missing that benchmark.
1. Calendar color-coding
The has written that to truly understand where you are spending your time and to whether you should adjust your workload, you should track your work for two weeks.
I have developed my own system that allows me to track my workload in real time. I was always diligent about keeping all appointments in a daily planner/calendar. But that has evolved, and for many years, I been using a color-coding system to track the purpose of my various appointments.
For example, I have a color for leadership meetings, one for architecture and one for people development. This system allows me to view a quick snapshot of my time and ensure that 50 percent of my calendar is color coded around people. For instance, I schedule weekly touch-base meetings with all my employees. And if we need to reschedule, I make sure that I fit them into my calendar.
I can tell in just a few quick seconds if I am spending my time correctly or need to make an adjustment. As one mentor said to me years ago, “Your 'priorities' are where you spend your time.”
2. Team goal-sharing
One of the items that I find critical for team-building is communicating the overall relevancy of everyone’s work. This leads me to another regular habit: sharing performance objectives and goals.