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I believe in self-organized teams and management by objectives, unfortunately that leads my boss to think that I'm not leading.

I'm a technical lead for more than 5 teams. From my perspective it's working fine. I have weekly appointments with the technical leads of each team separately and we're all together discussing overarching topics every second week. I'm deciding about the overall solution and the roadmap. I discuss requirements at the beginning of each task and don't interfere if everything works out according to the plan.

Now, I have new boss and he says he doesn't see my leadership, because teams are achieving their goals but my name doesn't come up during presentations and discussions. I understand that this is a side effect of my leadership style and I don't want to change it, because in my opinion it works and motivates people more than an authoritative style (which my predecessor used). Still I want to reduce that side effect.

How can I make the impact of my leadership visible while keeping teams self-organized and managing them by objectives?

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  • P.S. I think it's a communication problem, I just don't know when it's the right time and how to make clear what's my contribution. I need to make everyone aware, not just my boss.
    – Chris
    Commented Feb 5, 2022 at 21:08
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    1) What value do you believe you are adding? 2) Do the individual team technical leads believe you are adding that value? Commented Feb 5, 2022 at 21:16
  • Are you sure your style of leadership is what your manager is looking for? I would suggest that it isn't. Commented Feb 6, 2022 at 13:07
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    My management style is similar. The result has sometimes been similar too - hearing questions like "what does BittermanAndy actually even do?", to which the answer is "lots, behind closed doors, and that's why the team is working well and the project is on track, even if you don't see it". So far I've always been able to just say something like that and it's been accepted. Commented Feb 7, 2022 at 9:00
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    You sound like a great manager to me! What do you think your boss thinks "leadership" is, I'd be tempted to just change the way I describe things to them so they are hearing the right buzz words
    – R Davies
    Commented Feb 7, 2022 at 9:09

1 Answer 1

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I recommend the following actions:

  1. Explain to your boss your leadership style: why you do it and why you think it's effective. Mention to him some books or articles about this, and leadership style in general. (I'm assuming you have read some yourself.)
  2. Give your boss examples of decisions that were really yours, even though they weren't presented like that. Explain how having the team take ownership of solutions (so they think of them as "our solution" rather than "his solution") makes them more committed to it - but means they don't present it as your idea.
  3. Ask your boss if the team is functioning well and producing good work. If he says yes, then suggest that any well-functioning team is a sign of good leadership, even if it isn't visible. (If he says no then you will have to rethink your approach.)
  4. Ask your team for feedback about your leadership. Ask them if there is something they need you to do to make them function better, or to stop doing.
  5. If step 4 goes well, then suggest to your boss that he talks to your team and asks about whether you are an effective leader.

I also use a collaborative leadership style, and I believe it's a very effective on programmers, who generally take direction about as well as cats like being herded.

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  • Thanks for your suggestions. I have the feeling that the way I hand over tasks and how I'm acting when receiving the result might not be right. Do you have any guidelines for that, which could be help in my situation?
    – Chris
    Commented Feb 8, 2022 at 23:14

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