I work in the cybersecurity division of my company in United States as a team lead / technical lead, managing a team of 9 security analysts. I worked at my current company for close to 9 years and am well respected by both management and my peers. To manage team work, we use Kanban Agile method with a board showing tasks to be done.

During the most recent 1:1 , my manager commended me on my management style, how I delegate well and don't micromanage. He said he appreciates me mentoring team members such as asking my junior team members whether there are specific projects they want to work on, and me providing coaching but not commands.

However, during most recent 1:1 with 2 specific team members, they said they prefer more direction from team manager (my manager) in what to work on. I said I was given the authority by my manager for team members to first suggest what backlog items to work on, and if they want to work on anything, to just let me know, and I will usually approve unless exceptional circumstances exist. They said they don't to be seen as too forward / disrespectful, which surprised me, as I consider initiative to be expected and directly saying what one wants is desirable, not rude or presumptuous.

All other 7 team members are comfortable with my fairly informal management style. These 2 team members , though while doing excellent work, seems to be resisting unless more formal direction from the true team manager is received. Its like they don't perceive me with influence just because my title does not have manager in it.

How do I talk to them to find out why they are resisting informal management?

What can I do to have these 2 team members show more trust in me, / recognize my influence?

  • 4
    Are you a lead, or not? If you're a lead - it's in your title, shows up in the org chart, etc. - then gently straighten them out: you give the formal direction. If it turns out these two team members are still unhappy with your informality: then give them formality. Tell them what task you want them to do and be done with it. (And they'd better do it, too.) (You can't force a person to like your "management style". But you can expect them to do what you tell them - if you are actually a lead.)
    – davidbak
    Dec 11, 2021 at 4:29
  • @Davidbak, I am a lead and manage these people. However, its not my style to breath down peoples neck and generally be micromanaging. I tell people what my end goals are, but the path to there is theirs to make.
    – Anthony
    Dec 13, 2021 at 2:19
  • @Anthony Why is your style more important than their style? I suppose everyone in the team should just bend to your wants? Dec 13, 2021 at 6:21

4 Answers 4


Your job as a tech leader is to get the best out of your people. If giving them a bit more direction will help get the best out of them, I suspect that's what you should do.

Believe it or not, tech leadership comes down to playing to people's strengths and weaknesses. It's not about imposing your work styles on everyone, and trying to figure out how to manipulate people in order to accept your work style.

The reason why they may resist "informal work styles" is because they may not have a firm grasp on what is important, or they may simply not want the burden of having to prioritise. Some people want to come to work, do a solid 8 hours, and then go home. Not worry about task prioritisation.


I'll approach the two questions you've asked separately.

How do I talk to them to find out why they are resisting informal management?

As far as I understand it, it seems like you've already got your answer to this. They've said they "prefer more instruction from the team manager." So I'd say the goal here is to help them understand the structure of the organization better.

What can I do to have these 2 team members show more trust in me, / recognize my influence?

I think it's as simple as a quick meeting with them, you, and your manager. Have a quick chat and make sure they understand the structure of the workplace. Something informal and friendly would be perfect, maybe 5-10 minutes to answer any question they've got.

I don't think you have to change how you onboard people or anything, it seems like most people get the message just fine. Anyways, it seems like you're doing great overall, so if I were you I'd just take it as a unique experience.

Good luck, and keep up the good work so far!


First off, if they are actually doing the work that needs to be done, then how they are acting towards you is not important. The only time this becomes important is if they are not doing what needs to be done.

If they are not doing what needs to be done, then a meeting with them and your manager might be the fastest way to resolve this - have your manager give them the command to listen to you.

You will run into many different styles of following as you continue in management / Team Lead. It is part of the job to accept that people under you might not be happy with you. Your job is to recognize what reactions are important and what are not.


I agree with other answers that it's good to make some accommodation for other following styles, and to have an up-front discussion on role expectations including your boss.

I would note that in cybersecurity, professionals are expected to show high initiative, deal with ambiguity, and clearly communicate unwelcome news to powerful people. So part of your job as a manager is also to help them succeed at those things. You should also communicate to them that this can be a path for individual growth.

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