The role of a CTO encompasses not only technical expertise but also effective leadership and people management. This article covers key strategies for building trust, empowering teams, fostering innovation, and driving growth within your organisation. We will explore topics such as establishing a shared vision, adapting to change, managing uncertainty, and measuring team performance.


As a CTO, successful leadership involves building trust, empowering your team, and driving growth. This article provides actionable insights on key topics such as fostering psychological safety, goal-setting, conflict resolution, and measuring team performance. By implementing these strategies, you can create a high-performing team that contributes to your organisation’s success.

Empowerment, Trust, and Empowered Teams

Trust and psychological safety are the cornerstones of building great teams and fostering a culture of empowerment. By placing trust in your team members and creating an environment where they can openly express their ideas, concerns, and mistakes without fear of negative consequences, you enable them to take ownership of their work and confidently make decisions. In addition, when individuals feel trusted and psychologically safe, they are more likely to be engaged, take the initiative, and contribute to the team’s success.

To build trust and psychological safety, practice transparency and open communication within your team. Share information about the organisation’s goals, challenges, and decision-making processes. Encourage team members to share their opinions and ideas and listen to their feedback. Finally, recognise and celebrate their achievements.

Cultivating a blameless culture is an essential part of fostering psychological safety. Emphasise that mistakes are learning opportunities rather than failures. Encourage a work environment where team members focus on problem-solving and continuous improvement.

Empowered teams are built on a foundation of trust and psychological safety, where each member feels a sense of ownership and responsibility for the team’s success. By fostering an environment that encourages autonomy, collaboration, and continuous learning, you create a space where team members can grow and thrive, ultimately driving innovation and growth for your organisation.

The CTO’s Role

As a CTO, building trust and enabling empowerment within your team is vital to fostering a high-performing and innovative work environment. Here are several strategies to build trust and empower your team:

  1. Lead by example: Demonstrate trustworthiness through your actions, decisions, and communication. Be transparent, honest, and consistent, and maintain a high level of integrity. Setting the standard creates a culture of trust within your team.
  2. Delegate effectively: Empower your team members by entrusting them with meaningful tasks and responsibilities. Provide them with the necessary resources, guidance, and support while giving them the autonomy to make decisions and manage their work.
  3. Encourage open communication: Create an atmosphere where team members feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, ideas, and concerns without fear of judgment. Instead, actively listen, provide feedback, and encourage dialogue in one-on-one and group settings.
  4. Acknowledge and celebrate successes: Recognize individual and team achievements, highlighting the impact of their contributions. Celebrate milestones and successes, and use these moments to reinforce trust and team cohesion.
  5. Provide constructive feedback: Offer timely, specific, and actionable feedback that helps team members grow and improve. Focus on their strengths while addressing areas for improvement in a supportive manner. Encourage a growth mindset and a culture of continuous learning.
  6. Invest in professional development: Support your team members in their career goals by providing opportunities for growth, such as training, mentorship, and challenging assignments. Discuss their aspirations during one-on-one meetings and work together to create tailored development plans.
  7. Foster a collaborative environment: Encourage teamwork and collaboration by promoting open communication, knowledge sharing, and cross-functional projects. Create opportunities for team members to work together on diverse initiatives, enabling them to learn from one another and build trust.
  8. Be approachable and available: Maintain an open-door policy, encouraging team members to contact you for guidance, support, or sharing their thoughts. Be responsive and accessible, and demonstrate a genuine interest in their well-being and success.

By implementing these strategies as a CTO, you can build trust, enable empowerment, and foster an environment where your team members feel valued, motivated, and inspired to contribute to the organisation’s growth and innovation.

Ash doing 1-1

The Importance of One-on-One Meetings

One-on-one meetings are essential for CTOs to build relationships with their direct reports, provide feedback, and discuss career development. These meetings should be held regularly, at least once a month, to ensure open lines of communication and maintain a pulse on the team’s well-being. In addition, oIn addition, one-on-one meetings provide a safe space for employees to voice concerns, discuss challenges, and share ideas, which can help foster innovation and growth.

Skip-Level Meetings: Connecting with Your Team’s Extended Network

In addition to one-on-one meetings, CTOs should also consider implementing skip-level meetings. These meetings involve meeting with the direct reports of your direct reports, effectively “skipping” a level of management. By conducting skip-level meetings, CTOs can gain a broader perspective on team dynamics, identify potential issues, and uncover hidden talent within the organisation. Skip-level meetings can also help CTOs stay connected with their team’s extended network, ensuring they are informed about the work being done at various levels of the organisation.

Structuring Meetings for Success

To optimise the value of one-on-one and skip-level meetings, CTOs should establish a clear structure and agenda. This can include setting expectations for the meeting, allocating time for updates on projects and performance, discussing professional development, and addressing any concerns or questions. In addition, encouraging open and honest communication during these meetings can help build trust and facilitate sharing of new ideas, which can contribute to the organisation’s future growth.

One-on-One Meetings

  1. Schedule regular meetings: Hold one-on-one meetings at least once a month to ensure consistent communication and relationship building. Set a fixed time and duration for these meetings so both parties can prepare and prioritise them.
  2. Establish a clear agenda: Before each meeting, create a well-defined agenda that includes updates on life, projects, performance feedback, professional development discussions, and any concerns or questions. Share the agenda in advance to allow your team member to prepare and add any additional items they wish to discuss.
  3. Create a safe space for open communication: Encourage honest and open dialogue during one-on-one meetings. Listen actively, show empathy, and offer constructive feedback. Ensure your team member feels comfortable discussing concerns, challenges, or ideas without fear of judgment or negative consequences.
  4. Focus on professional development: Use one-on-one meetings to discuss your team member’s career goals, identify growth opportunities, and provide resources and support to help them achieve their objectives. Create a tailored development plan for each individual to ensure they feel valued and motivated.
  5. Review action items and follow up: At the end of each meeting, review the key takeaways and agree on any action items. Ensure that both parties are committed to following up on these items and discussing progress in the subsequent meeting. Review and Follow up will demonstrate accountability and ensure continuous improvement.

Conflict Resolution and Mediation for CTOs

As a CTO, addressing conflicts within your team is essential to effective people leadership. Conflicts, if left unresolved, can lead to decreased productivity, diminished morale, and increased employee turnover. To effectively resolve conflicts, consider employing strategies such as active listening, focusing on interests rather than positions, and finding common ground. You demonstrate empathy and facilitate better understanding by actively listening to each party’s concerns and perspectives. Encourage team members to identify their underlying interests instead of digging into their positions, enabling a more collaborative problem-solving approach. Finally, seek common ground and shared objectives, allowing your team to work towards a mutually beneficial resolution. By mastering conflict resolution and mediation, you can foster a harmonious and collaborative work environment, ultimately contributing to your team’s success and the overall growth of your organisation.

When mediating and resolving conflicts as a CTO, consider taking the following steps:

  1. Acknowledge the conflict: Recognize that a conflict exists and proactively address it. Ignoring the issue may only exacerbate the situation and negatively impact team dynamics.
  2. Gather information: Speak with the individuals involved in the conflict to understand their perspectives and gather relevant information. Be open-minded and objective, and allow each party to share their side of the story.
  3. Identify the root cause: Analyze the information gathered to determine the underlying causes of the conflict. For example, the root cause could be miscommunication, differing expectations, personal values, or other factors.
  4. Establish a safe environment for discussion: Create a neutral space where all parties can discuss the conflict openly and honestly. Encourage respectful communication and active listening to foster understanding and empathy.
  5. Facilitate problem-solving: Guide the parties involved in identifying their interests and exploring potential solutions to the conflict. Encourage collaboration and creative problem-solving, focusing on resolving the issue rather than assigning blame.
  6. Reach a consensus: Work with the involved parties to reach a mutually agreeable resolution. Encourage compromise and ensure all parties feel their concerns have been heard and addressed.
  7. Monitor progress and follow-up: Keep track of the agreed-upon resolution and ensure all parties adhere to the agreed terms. Follow up with the involved parties regularly to check progress and address any lingering issues or concerns.
  8. Encourage reflection and learning: After the conflict has been resolved, encourage all parties to reflect on the experience, identify lessons learned, and consider how to prevent similar conflicts in the future.
  9. Foster a positive culture: Promote a work environment that values open communication, respect, and collaboration. Encourage team members to address issues as they arise and provide them with the necessary tools and resources to resolve conflicts constructively.

Following these steps, a CTO can effectively mediate and resolve conflicts within their team, fostering a more harmonious and productive work environment.

Establishing a Shared Vision and Goals for Your Team

As a CTO, aligning your team around a shared vision and clear goals is crucial for driving success and ensuring everyone is working towards the same objectives. Creating a compelling vision inspires and motivates your team, providing a sense of purpose and direction. Setting clear and well-defined goals for your team helps to break down the vision into actionable steps, enabling your team to monitor progress and celebrate achievements.

A Simple Guide to Setting Goals for Your Team:

  1. Develop a compelling vision: Collaborate with your team to create a clear and inspiring vision for your department. This vision should reflect the organisation’s mission and values and provide a long-term direction for your team’s efforts.
  2. Involve your team: Engage your team members in the goal-setting process to ensure their buy-in and commitment. Please encourage them to contribute ideas and perspectives, fostering a sense of ownership and responsibility for the team’s success.
  3. Set clear goals: Break down your vision into specific and well-defined goals. These goals should be challenging yet attainable, encouraging your team to stretch and grow.
  4. Align goals with the organisation’s strategy: Ensure your team’s goals align with the broader organisational strategy, reinforcing the connection between individual and corporate success.
  5. Communicate goals clearly: Share the vision and goals with your team, ensuring everyone understands their role and responsibilities in achieving them. Then, regularly reinforce the goals and track progress, providing updates and celebrating milestones.
  6. Provide resources and support: Equip your team with the necessary resources, tools, and support to achieve their goals. Encourage continuous learning and development, and offer guidance and coaching when needed.
  7. Please review and adjust: Regularly check your team’s progress towards their goals and adjust as needed. Foster a culture of continuous improvement and adaptability, recognising that goals may need to evolve as circumstances change.

Goal Setting and Agile

Goal setting and Agile methodologies can work together effectively, as Agile emphasises iterative progress, collaboration, and adaptability. In an Agile environment, goals should be flexible and responsive to change.

Consider incorporating the following elements into your goal-setting process:

  1. Set short-term goals: In addition to long-term goals, set short-term objectives that align with Agile iterations or sprints. Short-term goals Allow your team to assess progress frequently and adjust as needed.
  2. Embrace adaptability: Encourage your team to be open to changing goals based on new information, feedback, or priority changes. Agile goal setting requires a willingness to adapt and pivot when necessary.
  3. Foster collaboration: Agile methodologies emphasise teamwork and collaboration. Involve your team in goal-setting and encourage open communication, knowledge sharing, and joint problem-solving.
  4. Focus on outcomes: Instead of setting goals based solely on specific tasks or outputs, focus on the desired outcomes or impacts your team aims to achieve. Focus on outcomes encourages your team to think creatively and innovate to reach the desired results.

By establishing a shared vision, setting clear and well-defined goals, and incorporating Agile principles, you can effectively align your team’s efforts and drive success in your organisation.

Adapting to Change and Managing Uncertainty

In the fast-paced tech industry, CTOs must lead their teams through change and uncertainty. Developing a resilient and agile team requires implementing strategies that enable team members to adapt and thrive in challenging circumstances.

Here are some key strategies for managing change and uncertainty:

  1. Maintain open communication: Keep your team informed about changes and their reasons. Encourage open dialogue and address any concerns or questions that arise. You can help team members better understand and adapt to change by fostering transparency and providing timely information.
  2. Provide support and resources: Ensure your team can access the tools, resources, and training to navigate change effectively. Be available to provide guidance and support and encourage team members to seek assistance.
  3. Embrace a growth mindset: Encourage your team to view change as an opportunity for growth and development. Foster a culture that embraces continuous learning, experimentation, and adaptation. This mindset will help team members become more resilient and better equipped to handle uncertainty.
  4. Be flexible and adaptable: As a leader, demonstrate your ability to adapt to new circumstances and adjust your plans as needed. By modelling flexibility and adaptability, you will inspire your team to do the same.
  5. Encourage collaboration: Facilitate collaboration and knowledge sharing among team members, particularly during times of change. Collaboration can help create a supportive environment where individuals can learn from one another, develop innovative solutions, and build trust.
  6. Establish clear goals and priorities: Help your team focus on what matters most by setting clear goals and priorities. Clear goals will provide direction and purpose, even amidst change and uncertainty.
  7. Celebrate successes and learn from setbacks: Acknowledge and celebrate your team’s accomplishments during times of change while using setbacks as opportunities for growth and learning. This approach will help build resilience and foster a positive attitude towards change.
  8. Develop emotional intelligence: Cultivate your emotional intelligence as a leader by practising empathy, self-awareness, and effective communication. By understanding and managing your emotions and your team’s, you can create an environment where individuals feel supported and motivated to navigate change.

Implementing these strategies can help your team adapt to change and manage uncertainty more effectively. As a CTO, your ability to lead your team through turbulent times will be critical to your organisation’s success and continued growth.

A picture of Ash doing an interview

Building a Diverse and Inclusive Team

Creating an inclusive job ad is just the beginning of building a diverse and inclusive team. A diverse team has numerous benefits, including increased creativity, innovation, and better decision-making.

To promote diversity and inclusion within your team, consider implementing the following strategies:

  1. Foster a culture of respect and belonging: Encourage open communication, active listening, and empathy among team members. Create an environment where everyone feels valued, respected, and included. Set clear expectations regarding inclusive behaviour and hold everyone accountable for maintaining a positive team culture.
  2. Implement bias-awareness training: Provide training and resources to help your team understand and address unconscious biases. Encourage self-reflection and continuous learning to ensure everyone contributes to a more inclusive work environment.
  3. Adopt inclusive hiring practices: Go beyond the job ad by incorporating diverse perspectives into your hiring process. For example, establish various interview panels, consider blind recruitment to reduce bias, and utilise standardised assessment methods to ensure a fair and consistent evaluation of candidates.
  4. Offer mentorship and sponsorship programs: Allow underrepresented team members to receive mentorship, guidance, and sponsorship from more experienced colleagues. Mentorship and sponsorship can foster a sense of belonging, support career development, and improve the retention of diverse talent.
  5. Promote diversity and inclusion at all levels: Ensure your leadership team reflects your organisation’s diversity. Encourage diverse representation in decision-making processes and promote diversity and inclusion as your team’s priority.
  6. Set diversity and inclusion goals: Establish clear objectives and metrics to track your progress in building a diverse and inclusive team. Then, regularly review and adjust your goals and strategies to ensure continued improvement.
  7. Celebrate diverse perspectives: Recognise the value of different backgrounds and experiences and stands in driving innovation and growth. Encourage your team to embrace and learn from various viewpoints and provide opportunities for individuals to share their unique insights and ideas.
  8. Establish employee resource groups (ERGs): Support the formation of ERGs or affinity groups for underrepresented team members. These groups can provide a sense of community, encourage networking and professional development, and contribute to your organisation’s diversity and inclusion efforts.

By implementing these strategies and going beyond the job ad, you can create a more diverse and inclusive team, unlocking the benefits that come with a variety of perspectives and experiences.

Measuring and Evaluating Team Performance

Ash looking at metrics

As a CTO, assessing your team’s performance is essential to drive improvements and foster growth. By measuring various metrics and conducting regular performance reviews, you can identify areas for development, celebrate successes, and ensure your team remains aligned with the organisation’s goals.

Here are some key aspects to consider when measuring and evaluating team performance:

  1. Productivity metrics: Monitor metrics such as throughput, cycle time, and work completed to gauge your team’s overall productivity. These indicators will help you identify any bottlenecks, inefficiencies, or areas for improvement.
  2. Employee engagement: Evaluate team members’ engagement levels through surveys, feedback sessions, and one-on-one meetings. High engagement levels can increase productivity, innovation, and overall performance.
  3. Project success: Assess the success of your team’s projects by measuring on-time delivery, budget adherence, and stakeholder satisfaction. Analysing project outcomes can provide valuable insights into your team’s effectiveness and areas for improvement.
  4. DORA metrics (DevOps Research and Assessment): Utilize DORA metrics, including deployment frequency, lead time for changes, mean time to recovery (MTTR), and change failure rate, to evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of your software development and delivery processes.
  5. SPACE metrics: Assess your team’s performance in five critical areas – Speed, Predictability, Adaptability, Collaboration, and Empathy – using the SPACE framework. This holistic approach can help you identify strengths and weaknesses across multiple dimensions of team performance.
  6. Regular performance reviews: Conduct performance reviews at least once a year to assess each team member’s contributions, strengths, and areas for development. Use these reviews to set goals for the upcoming year, align individual objectives with team priorities, and provide constructive feedback for growth.
  7. Data-driven insights: Leverage data-driven insights to identify trends, patterns, and opportunities for improvement. By analysing performance metrics, you can make informed decisions that drive continuous improvement and growth for your team.
  8. Aligning performance with organisational goals: Ensure your team’s performance metrics align with your organisation’s strategic objectives. This alignment will help you demonstrate the impact of your team’s work and contribute to the organisation’s overall success.

By measuring and evaluating team performance using these metrics and strategies, you can effectively drive improvements, foster growth, and create a high-performing team that contributes to the success of your organisation.


This comprehensive guide for CTOs, highlights the importance of trust, empowerment, and effective leadership in driving growth and innovation. Key topics include building trust and psychological safety, one-on-one and skip-level meetings, conflict resolution, setting goals, adapting to change, promoting diversity and inclusion, and measuring team performance. By implementing the strategies outlined in this article, CTOs can cultivate a high-performing and empowered team that contributes to the success of their organisation.