Every day, there seems to be a new article breaking down what makes a great CEO. Working at Lampros Labs, each one of us has the opportunity to work directly with the CEO and learn what it means to be a leader and how running a startup can look. We have been very fortunate to be successful thus far in our line of work and we are confident that this success will continue to grow. Whether it’s a general piece or something related to Steve Jobs, this article will focus on what makes most executives unique, not the winning characteristics they all share.
It’s no secret that being a CEO requires setting the overall vision of the company, hiring great talent and ensuring there’s money in the bank — but without certain complementary traits, it would be difficult to run businesses that succeed. If you’re an aspiring leader in tech these are the 6 characteristics that I think make you successful.
1. They have a defined plan.
This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many tech CEOs don’t have a truly defined strategy — or a clear cut goal — for the business. When Lampros Labs started our CEO had a goal in mind and a growth plan laid out to make growing pains easier to deal with and position ourselves as a success. It’s not easy, especially for tech startups, but if you set your plan high and allow for movement, your strategy will almost certainly change and evolve over time. Everyone in the company needs to know what you’re trying to accomplish. This means keeping everyone from the ground up on the same page, and the best way to do that is to have open communication and make sure that the people we hire want us to succeed.
2. Build culture from the ground up.
In bigger businesses and different industries, leaders take a step back from the day-to-day processes. They stay in their offices, talk to the board and investors, and plan from above. Tech CEOs, especially during the early stages of a company, need to help build culture from the ground up. Our CEO likes to occasionally say that he is one of the few CEO’s you will see take out the trash around the office because he has the belief that he wouldn’t make us do anything he wouldn’t do. This also means getting involved with employee activities, spearheading office events and making sure you take time to get to know everyone. We have had some office activities like going out to lunch, going out for drinks and even a office camping trip. Some of the question that you should be asking about your employees is what motivates them? What are their personal goals? Knowing the whole person of each individual will strengthen the company culture and help retain — and nurture — talent.
3. They hire the right people.
When you’re trying to scale a business, it’s tempting to hire the first people who show up with the right skill sets. But if those employees aren’t invested in the company’s direction long-term, the cracks will start to show sooner rather than later, and you’ll be back to the hiring drawing board. At Lampros Labs we have a nice list of criteria that we look for in our developers and future employees when screening them. This isn’t a job for everybody and while our standards are pretty high for a startup, its because they have to be. The bottom line is that we need to be successful on every project because there is more on the line than just one persons future.
Know the difference between the right people and the right people for right now. If you’re trying to build a great business that lasts, you need to think about what kind of employees the company needs in five or 10 years, not for just the end of a quarter or the next board meeting.
4. They know when to let go.
A good leader doesn’t just hire the right people, they keep the right team in place and sometimes have to make tough decisions. That could mean scrapping a product, shifting priorities or letting go of a team member. When a member of Lampros Labs moves on to a new and brighter job we want to celebrate that. Yes we will be sad to let them go but that is the point of the system we have. We want our developers to hone their skills, grow a great portfolio and take those skills to their next job and leverage that experience for a better paycheck.
5. Empowering the team to make decisions.
In the tech ecosystem, there are a lot of talented people with different opinions. It’s easy to spend all day listening to opinions without actually making movement on anything. But your job is to make your team successful. The great thing about working with our CEO is that he wants our input, if we think something might not work on a project or a decision by a client might sink a task then he wants to hear that. Being a leader isn’t about being a dictator and controlling everything but listening to the input of your followers and acting accordingly.
6. They love the product.
The most important characteristic of a tech CEO is a deep, unwavering dedication to the product. CEOs should lead the company in being passionate about what they are selling or trying to achieve. You’re the one who creates that energy not only in the company, but in the market. Without passion, you won’t be able to convince others that you have what it takes to grow the business or persuade customers that your product is right for them. Basically you need to have charisma and the technical know how to make your product or service to succeed. The energy you bring to the table will be picked up on by your employees and clients that you bring on to work with you.
These six traits are what I think make a great CEO, especially since these are the traits that I have been able to witness first hand. These are traits that every CEO has to have to be a success but it makes your employees happy to be working for a leader like this and when your employees are happy then productivity will skyrocket.