This year, I was transferred to a struggling software project as a developer. My time with the team has been difficult due in large part to shortcomings with management. During my time with the team, I have gained a reputation for my outstanding work product as well as ability to coordinate larger aspects of the product and prioritize according to business needs. I've been in close contact with our CEO throughout and gained support in correcting for the teams' shortcomings.

I've been granted exclusive access to a team of developers and supporting resources, with the go-ahead to execute my project plans and make progress on our product. With this increase in responsibility, I fully intend to discuss an adjustment to title and compensation.

I am looking to take the manager position on this product, as I have been working closely with the product and business teams throughout and have a strong understanding of the product requirements, business trajectory, technical structure, and developer resources. There is not currently a management position or team lead position open, however, I have discussed at length with the CEO about the current manager's shortcomings, and as a result gotten buy-in into forming my own team.

As of yet, we are about a month out from delivering on my initial project promise. I do not have any leadership title or past formal leadership experience.


I fully intend to pursue this management position at my earliest opportunity. Since the position is already filled, I might receive push-back if I pursue it right now. However, I worry if I negotiate a promotion/raise as team-lead now, they might be less inclined to negotiate if I apply again for manager in the near future.

Should I negotiate a team-lead title and use it as a stepping stone into management or negotiate a management title directly?

  • 3
    Question: What experience do you have with non-technical Management tasks: Budgets? Hiring/Firing? Admin? Disciplinary matters? If the answer is 'none' - then Team Lead first would be more appropriate. Commented Oct 1, 2023 at 22:25
  • 1
    Or training in lieu of experience, though I have always considered MBA to be oversold
    – keshlam
    Commented Oct 1, 2023 at 23:01
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    I'm afraid we do not know what your current bosses will do if you apply for either title. With some bosses, it might be a good idea to just be open and tell them what you told us, with some it might backfire. Nobody here is as qualified judging your bosses and your company culture as you are.
    – nvoigt
    Commented Oct 2, 2023 at 5:13
  • Why settle for lead, rather than a more attractive metal? .. Oh, I see. Why do you think title matters rather than what you actually do?
    – keshlam
    Commented Oct 2, 2023 at 14:09
  • @TheDemonLord I have extensive experience with budgeting, administrative work, and interpersonal coordination, just not a title or certification to flaunt. I'm confident in my ability and see myself as the most viable candidate internally, just want to figure out my next steps.
    – Groger
    Commented Oct 2, 2023 at 17:06

1 Answer 1


Based on your answer in the comments - if you genuinely believe you have sufficient experience in the non-technical aspect of Management - I would say advocate for the Managerial role.

Now - I would frame your request in terms of a structural change - the current Manager will still be a manager (of what, I don't know - that's a company problem) - but your team will be under you.

If you are going to do this though, you will need to have a fully realized business case for this.

It's not sufficient to say 'I should be the manager, I'd be great!' - you need to come up with:

  • Reporting lines - who reports to you and why - who do you report to and why.
  • 3,6,12 month plans - what is it that you being a manager will allow you to deliver to the business. Why is this not possible with the current structure.
  • Budget - what will it cost the business to make this change? A change in Salary for you, the cost of a new employee to replace you, the cost of hiring, the cost of training, the cost of materials etc.

I would sit down and go through each and every aspect and come up with a fully formed plan, then present it to the CEO/Board.

When you do so, make sure the one thing you don't say or do is badmouth the old manager or suggest they should be fired etc. It's about you moving your team forward, what is best for the company. Keep it positive.

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