Since my career has taken an interesting road to becoming a CTO – from ride-hailing technology to digital music to PropTech – I am often asked the secret to work success. So here are my lessons in leadership.
I think the closest thing I have to a secret is to really take the time to deeply understand who you are and what motivates you. I think if you can combine that understanding of what you love to do with what you’re good at or willing to get good at, along with something that pays you relatively well, you become unstoppable. That’s the magic combination.
For me, my career in technology has taken me from being an product manager to engineer leader to serving as a CTO at Lessen. Along the way, whatever the industry, I have learned a few leadership lessons that stick with me.
Create the roadmap
My biggest piece of advice for anyone is to build a roadmap for their career based on where you want to go. Having a roadmap allows you to know what a good opportunity looks like when you see it and guides you toward the right types of opportunities. Building a roadmap for your career also naturally helps you attract more of what you seek as you put your intentions out there in the universe.
What does this have to do with lessons in leadership? When you find a career that fits, you will no doubt shine and inspire those around you and become more of a natural leader.
Find the intrigue
I don’t think the debate among experts over whether to pursue your passion as a career destination will ever end. For me, it doesn’t really matter. Instead, I encourage others to determine the kind of work they enjoy and then an industry they find at least a little intriguing.
My career has taken me across about a half a dozen industries, but I don’t have a passion for all of those. In fact, while I found each of them intriguing, I would not call any of them my true passions. Instead, my passion is around leading others to build technology to change the world in two ways – through the products or services we build and through the satisfaction from the work they do. There is no greater thrill as a professional than to inspire a direct report to grow as a professional and achieve success along their path.
Know your role
How do algorithms and machine learning techniques help ride-hailing cars arrive on time? What are the differences between those algorithms and the ones used by a music platform or a property app to select a song or property that will pique your interest?
While I have worked in all three industries and could explain the answers, that’s not my role as a leader. Instead, my role is to build a team of incredible people who know the technologies and have the drive to make them even greater.
I agree with Damon Hayes-Milligan, who suggests hiring people smarter than you. As a leader, your goal should be to build a powerful team, set the course for them and get out of the way. Let them do their thing – and be there as the leader to provide the navigation and resources they need to achieve success for the business and themselves.
Lessons in leadership
One other important role I have come to discover as a leader – become a shield for your team members. I value the time of my team members so much that I want to block any unnecessary distractions. Anything I can take off their plates means more time for them to spend creating greatness and taking us all to the next level.
Whether you’re currently a leader in your organization or exploring what leadership might look like for you, a great next step is to find ways to learn more about yourself. Then, whatever your career passion may be, you can create an informed roadmap for a path to success. Always look for the lessons in leadership.