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A small team is being created at my company and my boss wants me to lead that team. The 2 other guys that will be in it (we're hiring 2 more) are my colleagues and both in some ways are more senior than me.

One (A) has a couple more years of experience than me, but was only very recently recruited into the company for a junior position. The second one (B) has 1 more year of experience than me and is the member of the current team for longer than I (but in not the company). I think we are on the same skill level but he was some time ago promoted to a higher rank than me (middle->senior) after threatening to resign.

I will soon be also promoted to senior and for some reason management thinks I would be a good team lead (I didn't ask for this). I know from my boss that B really wants to be a team lead, but I'm their first choice if I want it. I moved to my current team after declining an offer to lead my previous team. I declined leading position back then because I wanted to develop my core skills. I’m not entirely convinced I would like leading role. My main worry is that I will hate politics and the actual management work. Having said that I feel this would be a step in good direction as I want to manage my own business at some point in future.

I'm worried that If I decide to accept, my colleagues (especially B) will not accept it, that it might affect my relationship with B (we're friends) or that he even quits the job. My boss says he will give B some new responsibility too, but I don't think B will be satisfied with that. I'm not sure what to do and what to consider. Time for my decision is running out. Should I talk to the other 2 guys about this? Does it even makes sense to worry about other people feelings when it comes to my career vs theirs?

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    Not sure your title really fits. It seems more a question like : "my manager wants to give me a post of team leader i didn't ask but yet interest me, but a coworker and friend wanted that position for a while, how should i handle this without loosing my friendship ?". But i'm not sure if it's answerable. – Walfrat Sep 16 '16 at 12:01
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    Does the team lead role in your company come with administrative duties like status reporting and performing/contributing to performance reviews and salary decisions? Do you want to try that kind of position? If you do, your relationship to your friend will be changed, by definition, and it needs to be this way. You will be his boss. Lots of people can handle this kind of change. Some cannot. If you can handle it, but he cannot, it is his problem, but you will likely have to be involved with his problem until it is resolved, one way or another. – Kent A. Sep 16 '16 at 12:46
  • Thanks @Kent, that's a good point I will have to consider that. – user53293 Sep 16 '16 at 12:55
  • Yes of course becoming their boss would affect your relationship with them, it would no longer be friendship. We can't know if they will accept it and neither do you, unless you talk to them privately to feel them out. Either way, you need to decide which is your priority: promotion, or the friendship. You could always go back to your management and say "Thanks very much for the offer, but to preserve my friendship I'd like to manage a different set of people". Or you could decline the promotion, or quit. You have to decide, and figure out your options. We can't decide for you. – smci Aug 15 '17 at 19:57
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    @smci Thanks, but it's kind of late. Just as an update: I ended up accepting the offer, B quit after 6 more months. We remain friends. – user53293 Aug 15 '17 at 20:27
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First, when going for a lead position the amount of experience the other people have on the team is irrelevant. Leading is different from developing, it takes a completely different skill set. Some of the most experienced devs I know would make terrible team leads. Some of the best team leads I have worked with were great devs and some were only adequate devs.

Next, anytime you get promoted, there is going to be someone who also wanted that position. That is how life works. People either get over their disappointment or they leave. They can make your life miserable before they leave though, but you need to learn to manage them appropriately if you truly want to move in this direction.

What I see though is that you do not appear to actually want to lead. Take a good hard look at exactly what is involved in leading a team and determine if this is the direction you want to go. ALso take a look at exactly how you would like it if someone else on your current team was made the lead. What you said about person B made me feel as if he would be a disaster as a lead (which is also probably why you were offered it instead of him.) If you turn this down, likely you will have to go elsewhere to be made a lead if you later decide this is the route you want to take. You may also end up working for someone you dislike working for.

When you lead, you have to deal with politics, you have to deal with people who don't perform or who behave like prima donnas, you have to deal with telling the team news they don't want to hear. You have to deal with telling people above you things they don't want to hear (like why the deadline is unreasonable.) You have to put keeping everyone else from getting stuck as a higher priority than your own programming tasks. You have to be able to clear roadblocks for team members. You have to be concerned with their development.

Eventually, on this path you will have no programming tasks as you move up through the management levels. At this level, your programming tasks should take no more than 60% of your time if you want to do a good job of leading. You will be involved in more meetings. You have full responsibility for other people meeting deadlines.

On the plus side, you tend to have more say over the direction of the project and if you do it well, a lot of career opportunities for really interesting projects can open up.

Don't think you must be a lead to have a good career. I know plenty of programmers in their fifties and sixties who have never wanted to be a lead and who are still enjoying just doing development. Your career is about what you want to do, not a pattern someone else has marked out.

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My main worry is that I will hate politics and the actual management work. Having said that I feel this would be a step in good direction as I want to manage my own business at some point in future.

I would say this is your main conflict you need to solve first. Once you know what you want, you can weight it against all other pros and cons like other peoples wishes.

Do you want to manage? This is something we cannot decide for you. But managing includes lots of non-hard skills. Whether you call it "politics" or not, it's different from the normal work you do. Think about this and make a decision.

Once you have made that decision, it will be a lot easier to prioritize your working relationships.

  • I wouldsay that soft skills are different from non hard skills. Management includes many soft skills that are difficult. – HLGEM Sep 16 '16 at 13:29
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If you are nervous about it, sure, talk to your team; that's a legitimate leadership skill. But this is a good opportunity to develop those skills and to get increase your value to the company. It really isn't likely anyone will resent your doing so or make your life especially difficult, especially if you keep them involved in any decisions.

And if you approach that way they may even appreciate your being willing to do the bookkeeping to keep the team on track so they can stay focused on their own tasks.

Go for it. Wish I'd done so more often.

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A team needs a point of contact to the outside, someone who organises everything within the team, someone who has the overview what the whole team is doing, and not just their individual part.

That person needs to be well organised. Doesn't have to be best worker, though - you might have someone on the team who does his job ten times better than you but is very disorganised, so you would be more suitable for the job of leading the team.

If you are in that situation, you can take on that role. Your success depends on how you play it. If you suddenly think you are the master of the universe and start bossing people around, or if you think you know better because you are the boss, you will fail. If you actually keep the team organised, the other team members may be very grateful for the job you are doing.

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