Entrepreneurship · Technical Leadership

Can you be a leader without experience in the given field?

Anonymous

November 23rd, 2017

I understand how technology works and am a coder. But I don't have years of experience under my belt. Can I still be CTO in my startup if the people I hire will mostly be smarter than me? How can I lead the R&D division without the required experience and expertise?

Dane Madsen Organizational and Operational Strategy Consultant

November 25th, 2017

If you have reported to a great leader, you know the core skills. If you have reported to a bad leader, you know the core skills to avoid. Leadership is not about being the smartest person; it is actually about bringing in people much smarter than you. You also must be a student of the industry so that you get the big picture for your team. Leadership is about vision, mission, and ambition, not about being the best coder. I know many CTOs and former CTOs that never coded a line in their life; they grasped the aspects of the technology as it applied to the industry and built highly effective groups based on delighting the end-user. My first rule of leadership: Don't lie, don't cheat, don't steal, and don't tell all you know. In this case, you have to bring the group together for a picture bigger than all of them. In not telling all you know, you do not start with "I have never been the CTO before".

Abdoul elbeey

November 24th, 2017

Of course you can be a leader without experience of a given field,All you need is to Analyse That Field or sector,and then come up with how you can put your leadership qualities in it.

Derrik Leach Innovation Broker, Strategist, Builder, Collaborator, Optimization Addict

November 29th, 2017

Being a leader does not require you to be the best or most knowledgeable at anything. If you lead from a solid set of core values, recognize the strengths and weaknesses of your team and keep everyone's long term focus on the vision while ensuring your short and medium term milestones are met, you will be fine. As the CTO, there is nothing wrong with technical team mates that are more experienced in a particular aspect of what you are trying to accomplish. Those people provide horsepower to development and credibility to the team. Your role is to understand the whole system, it's modules, how they work together etc and co-ordinate that. A lot of people fail because they can't shed their ego and allow someone in the room that they deem as superior in some way. On a good co-founding team, everyone is there for a specific and necessary role and understands the value of one another. If these people are not co-founders, you hired them for their exceptional/relevant skills, something a smart CTO and good leader would do.