Into the Breach: Leadership Brings New Fears to the Table

Although much of the work done in the field of machine learning and AI is performed by teams, there is still a need for a leader to synchronize each team’s efforts and move a company forward as one. This could be the CTO, CIO, or the VP of engineering. No matter who it is, however, there is no denying that this individual faces challenges above and beyond those faced by members of a team, where backup is available. Here are the most common fears that leaders in machine learning companies experience.

Having No Control is No Fun

Many CTOs and leaders in the machine learning field come from backgrounds that put them in direct control over aspects of a project such as code or infrastructure. As the leader of an entire company, however, there are many factors that hover outside the control of a CTO – juggernauts such as media, public relations, investors, and the weather are just a few of the forces that a CTO cannot personally control. While these factors won’t necessarily destroy an entire company overnight, they have the power to damage a company to the point where repairs are difficult, and therefore the uncontrollable threats are the ones that machine learning leaders fear the most.

Scaling Properly for Growth Can Be Scary

When many CTOs start out, they are part of start-up companies or just forming a team from the ground up, so keeping things at a reasonable size is simple. However, as companies find success and skyrocket toward larger goals, growth can get out of hand. Finding the right balance is another common fear that CTOs face. Figuring out how many employees to hire while maintaining the original company culture and keeping everyone in a good mood requires calculations beyond those of machines. Choosing which and how many projects to develop is another aspect of scaling; it all comes down to how big of a task a company can handle, and how a CTO can guide their company’s growth, so it is natural, organic, and easy.

Good Culture Can Go Sour, and That’s a Nightmare

Many teams start out small, and this works wonders for maintaining a positive culture and good team synergy. People get along well in small groups, and if they don’t, it is simple to begin a conversation that will patch relationships up. When a CTO strives to cultivate a positive, friendly culture at a larger company, however, the task becomes more difficult. It is not so easy to keep a large team of people on the same page, and disagreements can easily go unchecked and unaddressed. Keeping all their colleagues happy and productive is one of the end goals of a CTO, so the difficulty in maintaining that positive team vibe is a sleep-destroying fear.

Ultimately, the CTO is just as much a part of their team as their colleagues and moving the company upward and ahead is the prime directive for any CTO. Balancing employee satisfaction with productivity and positive public reception sounds like a heinous nightmare, but the best CTOs devote themselves and their thoughts to keeping all these factors in a happy, productive balance.

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Joshua Crawford | Managing Director | PROPRIUS

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