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I am working for US based client in their IT department as a consultant from their vendors. The team consists other team members who are from different vendors and Client own employees.

I am aspiring for a lead position in the team since from long time. However recently the current lead position became available as current lead quit.

Management asked to take look after that role temporarily till management find out another lead. For me it is good opportunity to prove myself and prepare for future promotion. However after a week assessment I sense a lot of challenges beyond my capabilities and things are stranger than when earlier leads are there and I feel situation is not quite right.

Below are few things I have noticed.

  1. Senior Business analyst approached me for my inputs to draft project plan. Usually PM will draft detailed plan.
  2. Situation is premature to draft a plan as scope, requirements and other inputs for the team are not finalized. But still Business Analyst insisted I gave my best guessed estimates rather than scientifically derived estimates.
  3. To my surprise the final project plan has lot of discrepancies and dates are not even closer to my estimates and declared dates will not be flexible.
  4. We have a dependency on other departments who just provided insufficient information and denied to provide more information.
  5. As I am consultant I don’t have no authority or control over any of my team member. All I can do is make requests and recommendations and motivate the people to do their best.

By seeing all the above I sense there is something definitely wrong. Is it appropriate if I say to my manager “I will support 100% and I will do what ever I can do in order to make team success how ever since the given challenges and risks, I will not take either responsibility for failure or disaster”?

closed as off-topic by Jim G., scaaahu, Jon Story, Jane S Sep 4 '15 at 4:21

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  • "Questions asking for advice on what to do are not practical answerable questions (e.g. "what job should I take?", or "what skills should I learn?"). Questions should get answers explaining why and how to make a decision, not advice on what to do. For more information, click here." – Jim G., scaaahu, Jon Story, Jane S
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    5.As I am consultant I don’t have no authority or control over any of my team member. All I can do is make requests and recommendations and motivate the people to do their best. Wrong. The business management gave you the position, so you have all the authority the position brings with it. What is your contractual relationship is not relevant to this. If people do not take that seriously, contact upper management. – SJuan76 Aug 30 '15 at 23:06
  • I don't understand your question - what exactly is it you're asking? – Jon Story Sep 3 '15 at 10:18
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If you're aspiring to take a leadership role, I wouldn't start off by saying "I will not take responsibility". Even if logically it makes sense, it isn't going to sound good.

A lot of people don't realize exactly how much goes into managing a team. They also don't realize this is by design. The leader is supposed to shield the team from the inter-team politics and allow them to focus on their deliverables.

The things you describe are all entirely normal from a leadership role. People with hard deadlines, unwillingness to budge or any requirements, having no authority and relying on persuasion (although normally you would control your own team...).

The bottom line is, if you really want to be a leader, you have to figure it out. Figure out the best solution given the constraints you have. Don't have good estimates? Go with what you have and refine them later. Use the Scotty rule if you have to, and find a solution that works for you and your team.

You're absolutely right. There are serious problems. Your new job is to solve those problems and give your team an environment where they are always as productive as possible.

  • That's not exactly the role of a lead developer in my experience. A lead developer is not a people or project manager. They're there to resolve disputes about the code, provide guidance on design, and enforce code quality. The PM or actual manager should be the person shielding the team from workplace politics so they can focus on the code. – ThatGuy Aug 30 '15 at 13:54
  • In my experience, that's the official statement, but the reality is the team lead has to do all the management issues. – corsiKa Aug 30 '15 at 19:02
  • @ThatGuy, the responsibilities of the a lead vary depending on the organization. I certainly would expect any team lead to be involved in the planning and requirements. – HLGEM Aug 31 '15 at 21:17
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If you're the lead, however temporary that position is, you do take responsibility for both failure and disaster. You don't get a free pass because you did something on a short assignment.

Whatever the reason for your current issues you need to tell your boss that you're struggling.

Hi boss, I'm struggling with project X at the moment. My and the PM's estimates are really far apart and the BA's not listening to me. I'm worried that we're heading for failure before we even start. Could you help me?

There is nothing shameful in asking for help when you're in over your head and if something's going to go horribly wrong your boss will appreciate it being raised early so that she has a chance to fix it.

You also need to be involved in the process of fixing the issue; it's part of your job as a lead. You can't do this if you're taking no responsibility for the project.

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