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“With great power, comes great responsibility”
Now this quote might be most popularly associated with the 2002 ‘Spider Man’ movie, but it neatly sums up the role of tech leaders in today’s world as well. It’s one thing to become the CEO of a mobile app company and draw a fat pay package, and it’s a completely different kettle of fish to be able to provide a proper direction to the company…to inspire employees for giving their best at work. Last week, we had an impromptu opinion poll at our office on what should be the top desirable traits of an effective mobile app entrepreneur. In today’s edition of AppBoard Tuesday, we will share some of the views shared by our developers:
- Ability to handle pressure – The CEO of a mobile app agency (or any corporate firm, for that matter) is, for all purposes, the captain of the ship. There will be work pressure, stress to meet deadlines, and a constant endeavour to satisfy clients. It also has to be kept in mind that not always will things go according to plan, and some projects will fail…adding up to frustrations. The key here lies in how well a leader manages to handle such situations. If (s)he gets rattled and panic-stricken, the employees will get nervous and tense as well. An entrepreneur who remains calm under pressure and maintain his/her clarity of thinking can: a) devise strategies to tide over problems, and b) let the workers stay relaxed and clear-headed. It’s all about the type of example you set.
- Hiring manpower for long-term solutions – And not for short-term fixes. There is a difference between recruiting the ‘right person for the right job’ and ‘the right person for the right job NOW’, and if the CEO and the recruitment team (i.e., the HR department) does not distinguish between the two, there’s bound to be problems. The focus should always be on inducting people who are likely to add value to the company 2, 5, 10 years from now, as the company itself grows and the way of work evolves. A candidate might come along with a mighty impressive resume, but if (s)he does not seem a good fit for the company in the long-run – there is no point in hiring him/her.
- A clear vision for the company – Back in 2006 when I started out with Teknowledge, our resources were, at best, modest. Even though the iOS and Android platforms were yet to be launched at the time, I knew I wanted to lead a company that made mobile applications. A decade later, I believe that my clarity of vision (coupled with, of course, the dedication and hard work of my colleagues) has helped Teks Mobile become a leading global app development company. Many new IT leaders are confused about visions for their companies. This, in turn, inevitably leads to muddled decision-making.
- Eagerness to learn and grow – The post of the CEO is the seniormost in a mobile app making company…but the moment a person starts treating that designation as an achievement in itself, that’ll be the start of his/her (and his/her company’s) downfall. The tech industry, and the domain of Android and iPhone app development in particular, is in a constant state of flux – and there is simply no room to remain static. The onus is on present-generation CEOs to keep track of all the new happenings, and constantly enhance their knowledge pools. If you cease to grow, your company would follow suit…soon!
- Ability to build a strong organizational culture – The importance of an IT entrepreneur as a role model for his/her employees comes to the fore once again here. The CEO is in charge of building the company culture (call it ‘way of work’ if you will), from the ground up. This includes a lot of things – right from how many hours you stay at office (if you are the first to arrive and among the last to leave everyday, that sets a precedent for others) and staying updated with the status of all app projects, to knowing what motivates and encourages workers, what their emotional triggers are, and even organizing regular offsite fun trips. A well-versed tech leader looks upon his/her company as a family…a family that has to be nurtured well.
Oh, and in this context, let me just share something: The Teks team will be off for a beach weekend this Friday!
- The importance of empathy – This responsibility is two-fold. Firstly, a tech entrepreneur has to be able to put him/herself in the shoes of the employees – to understand their needs, views and perspectives (this can range from a situation where an iPhone developer is stuck while working with Xcode, to a simple application for leave). On the other hand, it is also on the CEO to look at app ideas and projects from the client’s perspective. Unless the former understands what the client actually wants, how on earth will he able to explain the project to the developers? In a way, an IT leader has to love technology (but of course!), but (s)he has to love people more. Being too mechanical is never the right strategy.
- Ability to facilitate collaborative work – This is not just limited to being effective scrum masters. Any decent mobile app company has a fairly large number of team members, separate teams of iOS and Android app developers, a creative group (the graphic artists and UI/UX designers and animators) and other backend staff. A mobile app leader has to constantly make sure that these different teams are properly collaborating with each other, while working on projects. If there is any miscommunication between, say, a developer and a designer, the product (i.e., the app) will suffer…and that would lead to repeat work, and wasted man-hours. A leader cannot simply sit in a cabin and delegate work, (s)he also has to ensure that the people on the job are collaborating with each other well.
- Building on personal strengths – As a mobile app entrepreneur, I make it a point to identify the strengths and weaknesses (oh yes, everybody has some) of each of my employees. It’s a known fact that one person cannot perform all tasks, and it is of essence that people are given the job that they are likely to excel at. What’s more, a leader should not lose sight of the things (s)he herself is good at either. If you are an excellent coder, spend some time everyday coding for apps. Take time out of your obviously busy schedule. If personal strengths are not polished regularly, they no longer remain…strengths.
- Identifying the important stuff and discussing them with others – Company CEOs get hundreds of emails and phone calls every day. All of them SEEM important, but only a handful of them are actually so. A core skill of an effective leader of a mobile app company is the ability to decide what is indeed important, and what can be directed straight to the ‘Trash’ folder (i.e., identifying the wheat from the chaff). Only then should (s)he get into discussions with team-members, on how to act on the important topics. A good tech CEO never wastes time on unnecessary meetings about things that simply does not matter.
- Boosting the confidence of workers – Innovation plays a huge role in the creation of custom mobile apps. Problems can crop up if a CEO is too strict and has a heavy-handed approach while interacting with employees. In such scenarios, people shirk from taking risks and thinking out-of-the-box, since they (often correctly) think that a failure would lead to a strong rebuke, or even loss of job. Once again, an app entrepreneur has to encourage people to take risks and show off their innovative thinking prowess – while working on app projects. They should never be afraid to express themselves at work. A confident worker is always a high-performer.
Top-notch communication skills and a strong moral character are also must-haves for a mobile app entrepreneur. When (s)he addresses employees, the latter should be able to believe that their leader is thinking about their collective growth and success, and not only about his own benefits. Having a nice sense of humour is important too. A light joke in the middle of a meeting or on the work floor, eases a lot of the tension that app developers are subject to, day in and day out. Leaders have to be likeable people, who know how to get the job done (and done well) from workers. It’s 2016, and CEO’s should no longer be archaic ‘Hari Sadoo’-s!
With that, we wrap up yet another edition of AppBoard Tuesday. Do let us know if you can think up any other necessary qualities in a mobile app entrepreneur. We will be only too happy to listen to your views.
AppBoard Tuesday will return next week, with yet another interesting topic related to mobile app development. Till the next time…love thy apps!