I am the lead software developer of a startup since one year. We are 7 in the company and I will be promoted as CTO in few months, and I informally fulfill that role since I was hired. We have some meetings, and from time-to-time my boss, the CEO (which has an UX background), tries to push some technical decisions, which I can avoid by delaying them.

Since one week I work closely with him and the marketing team to provide analytics. Long story short, we agreed to on a place to deliver some metrics. After several days, I managed to deliver my work, so I have notified them. One of them made this place public (which is critical because it contains confidential information), then my boss moved it (which broke my work) (to use a given tool, I do not know) and then complained that it did not work anymore.

Is there anyway to clearly state my boundaries regarding my work area, and his?

  • 1
    Sounds like you need some sort of process for controlling changes to the software.
    – DaveG
    Jul 2 '21 at 21:53
  • 11
    "the CEO tries to push some technical decisions, which I can avoid by delaying them." <- this working relationship will end in tears. Jul 2 '21 at 22:01
  • Could your perception be wrong? You say you are not the CTO yet. If you aren't, someone else formally is. Your boss seems to think he is.
    – Roland
    Jul 4 '21 at 6:50
  • 1
    "We have some meetings, and from time-to-time my boss, the CEO (which has an UX background), tries to push some technical decisions, which I can avoid by delaying them." - you are NOT CTO MATERIAL, or not compatible with the CEO's vision, simple like that. As CTO he should trust you, and you should not undermine. What you said there would be a reason for wrongful termination with cause in a CTO position.
    – TomTom
    Jul 4 '21 at 20:14
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    You have a right to disagree - that said, unless you have DONE the CTO position, or have owned a company, that is like a broke man demanding he is a billionaire - a useless show of entitlement. SImple like that. Your actions speak louder, and they speak he is right and you are not ready for a C-Level position. And yes, I have been in that position and I generally own my businesses - I am the person that would fire you on the spot after such a sign of misalignment as I could not trust you to fulfill my vision of the company.
    – TomTom
    Jul 5 '21 at 8:29

The bosses that do respect boundaries and alert you about something that needs to be changed on the fly. ("Hey, GlinesMome, I just noticed on your metrics that the widgets are about 5% off from our normal target, and that that may affect the project. Can we have a quick meet-up?") Your boss found out the hard way that inappropriately interfering with what you've done without considering the consequences blew up in their face.

If you have frequent one-on-ones with your boss, raise this boundary-crossing issue up. "I know my metrics were due at a certain point and I posted them on X. In the future, would you prefer a short debriefing beforehand so we can see if there's any issues that need to be addressed?" If your boss insists on crossing boundaries, a firmer approach would be necessary: "If you want to change things before I submit them, please get in touch with me before you do so."


You hid the most important thing in this interaction: "critical because it contains confidential information". From a business perspective, that needed immediate action which he took.

Now, that the action he took wasn't the best solution and didn't inform you is a secondary issue. This action can be changed and you can work out with him how to react to business issues in the future. There are things that need immediate action. Work out with him how to communicate "This needs to be changed in the next five minutes. Do something now!" so that you respond and get the stuff done in a way that moves everyone forward.

Beyond that, you are in the situation where he believes that he needs to take action. How you can convince him that you can listen to him and take action right away is something I can't help you with especially since you post "which I can avoid by delaying them." If you cannot convince him, I doubt you will stay long.

  • 3
    And, you think you will be promoted to CTO in a few months. From my perspective, you are not demonstrating the understanding of business issues that a CTO would need. A CTO would not delay the boss, but would argue from the boss's business perspective why a different technical decision would be the best for the company (faster development, faster to market, meet a specific customer need, etc.).
    – David R
    Jul 3 '21 at 14:59
  • Regarding my "delaying" behavior, I take it but, for the context, it happens at our weekly company meetings (with everyone), and I think that the marketing team does not really care of our infrastructure decisions.
    – GlinesMome
    Jul 3 '21 at 17:01

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