I am joining a new company as senior software developer. The team consists of another 4 developers, 1 of whom is a senior developer, say his name is X. The senior developer will be my mentor and coach. He will supervise my onboarding program, and most likely give feedback on my probation period. I just learned that this guy, is very interested in becoming a team lead, which is the same position I joined this company for: the job title was "Senior developer with potential to become team lead".

X, to me is a very competent. However, I am in situation, where I have to compete with the person who is going to show me stuff, and teach me things. Although in total I have more experience than him. In this company's environment, he is far ahead of me. He has been there for almost 4 years. Technically, he is much more familiar with tech stack that is being used. In fact, he witnessed how this stack has been developed. I personally think he is in a very advantageous position over me. However, I am determined to not give up, (without screwing up things).

My question, what are the Dos and Don'ts that would help me to succeed in such an odd competition, given I am just starting.

  • 11
    When they said "potential to become team lead", did they suggest in any way they meant "within the first weeks of joining"? They might not have any intention of promoting you in the first few months.
    – Erik
    Mar 18 '17 at 8:16
  • 5
    He is a "couch" - You want to sit on him? And then he is going to "supervise my onboarding program". What is going on in the office? I guess this will be deleted soon as humour is not allowed on this site
    – Ed Heal
    Mar 18 '17 at 9:41
  • 2
    @Tam - You are making quite a few assumptions here. 1. He will get promoted. 2. You will eventually get promoted. 3. There is not another team lead in the offering in the company in the next n months. 4. You find a company with a team that is missing/soon to resign/... team lead and nobody else in that team (or elsewhere in the company) will apply. You are putting the cart before the horse
    – Ed Heal
    Mar 18 '17 at 10:26
  • 2
    TAM Get the first year under the belt. Keep your head down and learn the ropes
    – Ed Heal
    Mar 18 '17 at 10:58
  • 1
    One word: patience
    – user541686
    Mar 18 '17 at 23:56

tl;dr: "Team lead" is not a role that goes automatically to the most skilled developer.

To be a good team lead, you need a number of softer skills and attributes - an ability to nagivate the office politics and deal with higher management, a knowledge of the wider workings of the company beyond the immediate coding, the trust of the team members, the ability to support your team and apply discipline sensitively, the willingness to step back from development and take on less enjoyable tasks when required. You probably weren't judged on those in your interview and in some cases there is simply no way you can have the required knowledge until you've spent some time there. The only way you will get to be team lead at this company is to become a integral part of a team first and earn the respect of your peers.

If you try to usurp your own mentor as soon as you join, then it's unlikely that you'll be seen as a team player - and you'll be hurting your chances of ever becoming the lead when the next vacancy comes along. But you might reflect first whether you really want the responsibilities of the lead role, or just the status or extra pay you think it brings (which it often doesn't, in any case).


Other than in exceptional circumstances, you're not going to get a promotion within weeks of starting a new role. You're not "competing" with your mentor for this role as it's just too early for you. Stop worrying about about this team lead and make sure you do the very best you can in your first weeks in your new job: there's no way you're ever going to get a team lead role until you can first show that you are over performing as a developer.


For a start - get your feet under the table.

You need to be in a company for at least a year before thinking about promotion.

You do not know them. They do not know you.

So just spend the effort in getting to know the technology and the company. Then think about promotion.

  • In two of my last 3 jobs, I was fulfilling an unexpected opening in less than 90 days of start. One of those was quite formally a promotion (paperwork and all). In the other, I simply climbed from possibly #3 in the rather loosely-defined hierarchy to probably being #2. Business needs/opportunities can definitely trump some "magic" number like one year.
    – TOOGAM
    Mar 19 '17 at 6:33
  • I wouldn't say one year in requirement in all the companies. I've seen people being promoted just after spending half year with the company
    – kukis
    Mar 19 '17 at 9:05

But once they promote him to Team Lead, my chance is lost for years to come.

Yes, that potential probably meant in years to come.

You are acting ruthlessly. I would not at all trust you to be on my team lead because you feel entitled to it in your first few months. The person you have declared yourself to be in competition with likely has a functioning amount of respect and trust from all of the teammates.

Also it's a really weird goal. Team lead is usually about the same pay and responsibilities as a senior developer. Senior developers move in and out of team lead roles as they are needed. Owning a big project under a team lead is more complex and rewarding than owning a team whose projects are all smaller.

This in turn is why I feel you are being ruthless.

  • 2
    Also, being a team lead requires more people skills than just being a developer, and the OP is not demonstrating those skills by acting this way. I personally wouldn't want such a person for my team lead.
    – Torisuda
    Mar 18 '17 at 16:53

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .