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When Startup CTOs Lose Clout

Startup CTOs

CTOs are often introverted and may not have the verbal sparring skills that are like breathing for a CEO. My CTO clients often share similar refrains to each other. “I don’t think and speak up fast enough to match wits.” “I can’t come back with a ready rebuttal even when I disagree vehemently.” They are more comfortable with developing their ideas and arguments thoughtfully and privately. So, while they have equal intelligence and may have more powerful facts and evidence at their disposal, the fast-talking, quick-retort style of internal company argumentation is anathema.

I see this so much that when a new CTO turns out not to be disaffected, feeling marginalized, ineffectual and overwhelmed, it is noteworthy. The norm in my experience is super-smart, fiercely committed people who feel out of their depth in the machinations of their own organizations. They have full command over the company’s architecture and product, just not over its future. Many perpetually consider leaving their jobs to escape the feeling of powerlessness and burden.

So, what’s the solution?

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