One of the teams in my department has a team lead that's not quite fit for the job - he is great on the technical and professional level but not made to lead a team. One of his guys has expressed an interest to replace him, sharing some good ideas on what to improve, how to make things more efficient, etc. I believe he would actually be a better TL than the current one.

The current team lead doesn't see any issues, from his perspective it's all good. I don't want to upset him and eventually lose him as he is a valuable engineer with a massive experience and a great track record of successful project delivery. However he's just not the type of "people person" needed to lead a team.

How do I bring this up with the current TL without risking that I lose him?

  • Remember the Peter Principle if he was promoted and now is inept in his new role
    – Anthony
    Apr 13, 2022 at 12:58
  • 1
    Have you considered management training as well as mentoring to help this team lead grow into the position? I can attest that you don't need to be a "people person" to be an effective team leader but you do need to learn some skills beyond the technical ones.
    – jwh20
    Apr 13, 2022 at 13:20

2 Answers 2


Promote him to something else, then fill the team lead with the one you want.

Otherwise it will be a demotion however you play it.

  • 2
    This, except that in many companies there's a single career path for engineers that inevitably leads up to management; a promotion may not be possible without serious refactoring of the company structure. Apr 13, 2022 at 8:55
  • 1
    Promote sideways - start a new project and let him be the architect.
    – David R
    Apr 14, 2022 at 14:28

If the current team lead doesn't see a problem with his current responsibilities, you are out of luck. Maybe do a career planning session with the current lead and listen to him what he really wants. If he is only lead because "more money", but likes the engineering better, you may have an opening by offering a job he likes better, at equal pay. If he likes to lead, try to get him to improve his leadership skills.

At my company we had a team lead who was very similar. Great engineer, great project manager, but not-so-great at leading a team. Fortunately the guy liked the engineering work better than leading. After some time as lead he voluntarily asked to step down, as it wasn't what he was looking for.

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