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The Full-Stack Executive

I imagine a past where technology executives flew around in planes, wining and dining customers. Knowing your product, your technology and your entire business wasn’t necessary for success. You had a corner office. You didn’t know the names of your people. And being an executive meant everyone else was a 2nd class citizen.

Those days are over.

A New Breed of Leadership: The Full-Stack Executive

Growing tech companies require a new breed of executive: The Full-Stack Executive. They know the entire business top to bottom. They can present the sales deck. They can demo the latest features. They can talk about the architecture.

They know which developers are building what. They know their top sales rep and what makes them successful. They know the market. They know the buyers. They know the competition. They know they don’t know everything.

The full-stack executive does not wait to be trained or to be invited to a meeting. The full-stack executive goes and makes it happen. qualities of a good executive

The full-stack executive leaves their ego at the door.

They know their ego only blocks them from growing and learning. They don’t believe they know all the answers. They know they have to ask for help. They know their employees are smarter than them — because they only hire people smarter than them.

They know the best ideas can come from anywhere, regardless of pay or “rank” in the organization.

The full-stack executive always focuses on what’s best for the company.

They instill the qualities of a senior leader in all their employees. They don’t create in-groups or subcultures. They don’t block anyone from talking to their people. The only “us” is the whole company and the only “them” is the competition. They are loved and respected by their teams. They are respected by all the other departments. People feel comfortable sharing critical feedback with them.

The full-stack executive is humble.

They don’t ask for praise and recognition. They don’t want awards or public accolades. They pass the credit to their teams. They start their sentences with “We” not “I.” They take the blame for problems. They encourage risk and they offer support in the face of failure. They get their highs through others, not themselves. qualities of a good executive
qualities of a good executive

The full-stack executive is empathetic.

They understand the difficulty in bringing a product to market. They know the challenges of the field. They know sales is fucking hard. They know that it’s hard to be a customer. They know it’s hard to be their customer’s customer. They feel for the challenges of the market. qualities of a good executive

The full-stack executive moves the ball forward.

They don’t spend time talking about whose fault it is, and coming up with excuses for why things didn’t happen. They don’t say things like “I’ve been wanting to do that forever.” Instead, they just do it now.

The full-stack executive is fully transparent.

They don’t get defensive or reactive when others question their actions. Instead, they welcome all inquiries and see them as potential opportunities to get help. They realize transparency creates trust and that trust is the foundation of great performance. qualities of a good executive

The full-stack executive is self-aware.

They realize they will get better and smarter each day. And just like everyone else, they are a work in progress. They relentlessly seek feedback, and they act on those insights. The full stack executive transforms constantly and with clear intention. They see no end to their ability to grow.

The full-stack executive is vulnerable.

They share their insecurities and enable others to see them as humans, to connect. People feel connected to the full-stack executive. The full-stack executive makes it clear they are not perfect and that they make mistakes, just like everyone else.

There is a Full-Stack Executive in All of Us

The full-stack executive reads this and doesn’t defend themselves. They look at themselves in the mirror and pick a place to start improving. They don’t wait. They become one today.

qualities of a good executive

Want to hear more from Seth? Connect with him on LinkedIn or read more of his writing here.

What qualities do you think a full-stack executive should have? Let us know in the comments below.

4 Responses to The Full-Stack Executive

  1. 100% agree that these qualities make for outstanding people — the kind everyone wants to work for and with. Thanks for sharing Seth!

  2. vbhagat says:

    Seth – fully agree. A couple of other themes that I think are critical:

    1). Data driven – far too many execs don’t have a good handle on what KPIs matter for their business / function or measure them.

    2) Accountable – sets goals and does what it takes to achieve / exceed them

    3) Builds A-teams – strong executives should be ambassadors for the company, always seeking to find new talent and grow existing talent

    4) Forward thinking – it’s not sufficient to execute your function, you have to always be thinking about continuous improvement and what’s next


  3. Chris Harrington says:

    This is good stuff Seth; thank you so much for sharing it!!!

  4. Shalu Singh says:

    Thanks Seth for sharing your thoughts. I agree with your points.

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