I hate most of what is considered being “a team player.”

I hate it being acceptable for my colleagues to waste time asking me questions instead of reading the docs.

I hate the team getting blamed for one guy badly botching his assigned work in a sprint. I throw him under the bus if I can, but that doesn’t eliminate my attachment to a failed part of the project.

I hate junior developers wasting time with basic questions and not knowing things like git branching. It’s annoying to deal with.

I hate it being acceptable to for others to regularly not do work that they have committed to doing.

I hate to 40 hour a weekers who leave work undone until the next week.

I’m willing to hold myself to this standard as well, so I’m not a hypocrite. I resigned from a position two jobs ago because I missed a sprint goal despite an all out effort.

However, most companies want team players. I can craft excellent stories of team play and point to seeming examples, so the interview isn’t an issue. I also read enough books on management that I can just pull relevant examples from.

The problem is more that I stall upwardly inside companies as interacting with people annoys me so I need to keep hopping every 18 months to get the promotion (as I can’t get them internally). This was fine getting to the senior engineer level where I have been for six months, but I face the problem of what is next.

Having hopped around so much might interfere with my ability to get a team lead job at another company so I kind of need to be here for a while even if I largely vegetate (as there’s no reason to put effort in if I won’t get something extra) but I still need a good reference on managerial qualities. I also want good resume lines. The interview can be solved by reading books but those cannot.

My goal: What are the opportunities for seeming most like a team player that are mostly individual that will lead to a good reference generating event?

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    Why do you want a team lead job? If you go up the management line, you will spend more and more of your time trying to help others succeed, and less time programming. – Patricia Shanahan Feb 28 '20 at 23:58
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    Have you considered contracting instead of taking W2 jobs? At most permanent jobs, being a senior means having "mentoring juniors" in your job description, so as much as it annoys you to have them ask questions that you think are basic, it's your job to help them learn to help themselves. – shoover Feb 28 '20 at 23:58
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    You like to win even if the prize is a booby prize that would cause you to fail??? – Patricia Shanahan Feb 29 '20 at 0:20
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    This Q reminds me quite a bit, in content and tone, of workplace.stackexchange.com/q/152960/17890 and workplace.stackexchange.com/q/151129/17890 – shoover Feb 29 '20 at 2:54
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    Is this a joke? Trolling? – Kevin Feb 29 '20 at 5:33

You seem to be aiming to get into a job you will not enjoy, and at which you will probably be a failure. Helping subordinates learn and succeed at their work is a very major part of a manager's job, and you do not like that, have not practiced it, and do not seem interested in developing the necessary people skills.

I think you would do better to look for a line of work at which you would be happy and successful. Rather than managing, you should develop your technical skills. You then either work for an employer who needs your skills all the time, or, as suggested in a comment, become a contractor.

  • ...or the OP could work on improving their attitude and becoming a better team player. They're clearly struggling in their career because of it (as evinced by the fact that they're evidently unable to stay in even a non-management job for more than 18 months). – EJoshuaS - Reinstate Monica Mar 1 '20 at 22:11

What you can do is look for companies that take on Individual Contributors - it's an alternate progression path for senior developers that have no interest in leading teams, and generally doesn't have mentorship responsibility.

You will still be expected to work with others to varying degress, though.


What are the opportunities for seeming most like a team player that are mostly individual that will lead to a good reference generating event?

Networking, you can be totally incompetent and still get a great reference if you nurture relationships with the correct people. It happens all the time.


First, I'd encourage a little self-reflection here. Consider:

  • Have you ever asked a coworker a question that you could've looked up in the documentation yourself?
  • Were you a junior yourself?
  • Did you ever not know what Git branching was?
  • Have you ever left work undone until the next week?

I can pretty much guarantee you've done a large number of the behaviors you describe in your post at some point, and plenty more.

That being said, at risk of sounding harsh, most people also hate working with someone who thinks that they're better than everyone else, which is what you appear to be doing here. I'm encourage you to work on that so that you can function better as part of a team.

You may even want to be screened for narcissistic personality disorder, because what you're describing is definitely highly narcissistic behavior and attitudes.

What you should definitely not do is try to trick people into thinking that you're a team player when you're clearly not. Trust me, most people will catch on very quickly, which is probably why you don't get promoted internally and end up having to job hop every 18 months.

TL;DR You should work on improving your attitude and becoming a better team player, not on how to trick people into thinking that you're a team player when you clearly aren't.


What you could do is trick someone into a lead position and then just amass such a knowledge of key systems (while not training your underlings) that it becomes impossible to fire you. Bonus points if the systems you create a bus factor of 1 for are the critical and hard to understand systems which require a lot of maintenance.

Not terribly ethical, but I have seen it work many times, especially in enterprise software. My last boss (the team lead) got to spend all his time working on bugs while he spent no time with his team. Seems perfect for you.

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    no one is impossible to fire. A selfless team leader who actively and intentionally works against the goals of the team (ergo against the goals of the company he/she is working for) is going to do incredible harm on the long term. Competent developers will leave, eager juniors will basically be wasted potential and once the words gets out (and it gets out) of the bad environment you won't be able to hire quality manpower. If you don't intent to do at least a decent job, let someone else do it and find something you are at least vaguely interested in doing. – bolov Feb 29 '20 at 2:39
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    Also, anyone who is seen as unfirable is also unpromotable. – Patricia Shanahan Feb 29 '20 at 3:12
  • @bolov: "No one is impossible to fire." In the US, maybe. – guest Feb 29 '20 at 6:23
  • @guest I wanted to say "no one is irreplaceable" – bolov Feb 29 '20 at 6:34
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    Please don't write answers recommending obviously unethical actions - they're not helpful. – EJoshuaS - Reinstate Monica Mar 2 '20 at 1:07

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