This post was originally published in french on my blog skwi.fr.
There was a time when I thought that being a CTO was like being a Jedi Master : wise and with an absolute knowledge of web development ... or at least, the widest knowledge in the company.
Through the years, I changed my perspective about this job. Getting old made me more open about people and the variety of their intelligences. But I also didn't have the choice.
When I got from development to management, my job shifted from something technical to something more human centred. This shift didn't happen overnight, but my commitment to technical work was surely getting lower and lower. It wasn't the best context to maintain a technical expertise.
Reading blog posts, doing code reviews or getting my hands dirty are still important things to do. It helps me being relevant when setting the technical path for the team.
But it's important to admit that once I became CTO, I can not keep on being the best developer on the team.
And to be honest, it's healthy to strive for this situation. Not by getting less and less good, of course, but by working on elevating my team level and recruiting people with a higher level than me.
Being a CTO does not mean being the teacher, the one with all the knowledge, schooling its pupils. A CTO should be more like a coach, who may not be in a better physical condition than its athletes, but who knows how to help them get the best of their strengths.
This is not an easy step, especially after spending years building a technical expertise. But it's a mandatory step if you now want to build an outstanding team.