CEO 101: Stop calling people ‘your people’

Just today I saw another CEO saying on Facebook ‘I have amazing developers’. I said to myself, that’s it. I decided to rant about it. Because I’ve been introduced to people like ‘here is MY CTO’ (‘my’ emphasized), I heard CEO’s say ‘I give my developers x,y,z’ as if they are … whatever, you know what I mean.

It bugs me. It bugs me now I am a CEO, it bugged me when I was a CTO, was a developer. It’s wrong, it’s lame, stop doing it. It’s not the same as saying my wife, my children, my cat. It’s bad.

Here is why:
1) People are humans, they are not objects that you own.

2) CEO is a given title, ‘developer’ is earned. Show respect. Just because you could raise money doesn’t mean you have authority over others (nothing means that anyway). Unless you are Steve Jobs, just shut up. To real people, CEO means nothing. It almost is as lame as saying “I’m an entrepreneur”.

3) CEO is not a title for a maker, it’s a management title. When there is nothing to manage, it means nothing. Think about it like this, if your company is less than 5 people, you are a rock band, CEO MUST play an instrument (or sing). A rock band doesn’t need a CEO, so stop calling yourself that. Call yourself with what you do (btw, if you can’t, fire yourself, free ‘your people’).

4) If your company is more than 50, then you are a philarmonic orchestra, and CEO is a maestro. Don’t forget, without Paganini playing that violin, your title means nothing. Paganini, however, is always Paganini. Show respect, don’t call him “your guy”.

Point is, calling other people ‘your people’ is just wrong, condescending, impolite and dumb. We’re not living in medieval times, nor under manorial system, and sorry to break it to you, you are not a king.

I propose,
- My employees – My teammates
- My developers – Developers that I work with
- My company – Our company (think about it, is it really yours?)
- My developer – My teammate
- I manage – I help
- I have 10 developers in my team – I help a team of 10 developers

As a CEO, this is the only phrase you keep intact,
- I make sure help things get done, on time.

If you do that long enough, people will show you the respect you are trying to self claim. Be patient, talk less, and do your job – it will come to you.

Devrim
CEO of Koding

ps: Paganini Caprice No.24 (thanks Bradford)