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A leadership role without direct reports. Help or Hinderance?

By RB_ITProfessional ·
Hello all. I would appreciate some feedback on a decision I am trying to make. I have an opportunity to take a leadership role, however it does not involve any direct reports or budgetary control. Would this be a help or a hinderance to my if my goal is to position myself for management at some point. The overall responsibilities of the role would be as follows:

1) Direct and mentor project teams on the use of the new Enterprise Architecture standards for software development

2) Provide mentorship and training on the creation of project artifacts

3) Create and maintain process governance and standards documentation

4) Be a Liason to the Business to help them understrand the new Enterprise Architecture

5) Negotiate with project teams to consolidate work efforts and utilize the common objects that will be created as a part of the new Enterprise Architecture.

I realize that in order to move into management, I will need the people management skills as well as the monetary control aspect. This position offers neither..however I could see some potential for future growth. Any thoughts on this? Any managers out there have any feedback on this?


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Good steps

by JamesRL In reply to A leadership role without ...

I took a very similar role and moved from there to management. My previous role had been in project management.

There is more to department management than managing your staff, it also includes working with your customers (internal or external), promoting standards, improving processes etc.

You will get some valuable experience out of the role, and you will be the envy of managers with staff at review time(I ws kidded about it alot until I got 30 staff).


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You just might like it!

by DC Guy In reply to A leadership role without ...

I've had most of the available roles throughout my career, and I have to say that direct management of staff and budgeting were not among my favorites. Like everyone else I wanted to become a manager because that was the definition of "success." But it's not for everybody.

It comes with a lot of headaches. You suggest that you don't already have the people skills required to be a good manager. That's a common problem. Don't think you'll automatically learn them by being thrown into the job, a "baptism of fire." There used to be an intermediate position called "supervisor," someone who did nothing but supervise all day. No budgets, not a lot of reports and meetings. Those people had the people skills and they taught them on to their subordinates. Now nobody is doing that. You go from being a developer to being a manager and you spend 90% of your time doing absolutely everything else EXCEPT managing your people, so where are THEY going to learn the skills to become the next generation of managers? A good many managers today are completely lacking in supervisorial skills. Especially in IT, which despite forty years of progress is still to some degree a haven for misfits.

It sounds like you're going to be doing a lot of training. That's my favorite part of the job. It's interesting and it's rewarding. If you have the talent for it, if you can put some material together in one week because they changed your schedule, if you can figure out how to get through to each individual student or mentoring subject so they actually learn the stuff, then it doesn't really come with a lot of headaches.

I haven't done any real "managing" in ten years and I'll tell you, I don't miss it a bit. The pay for staff work is pretty similar, there's less stress, the hours are more regular, and sometimes people even appreciate what you're doing.

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Leadership & Management

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to A leadership role without ...

are very different skills and talents. can't see why it would be a hindrance unless you fail though. On the whole the role seems well thought out because to be successful at it you would have to get others to follow. If you don't think you could do it without management authority then you probably aren't suited to it, there again you may surprise yourself.

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Take it if you feel a fit with the company's current infrastructure!

by mho In reply to A leadership role without ...

Managing the teams itself is your key in your future to understanding direct reports. It's not easy, trust me. Being able to see the Human Resources side from a distance is good, and you will definitely see the personality differences that you may or may not want in your future team as you grow your career. This job will probably be your stepping stone to a stronger leadership role in the future. Once you've completed your projects, your ability to work between Depts and project teams have exponentially added to your resume an ability to lead more than just a few direct reports, we're talking sizeable Depts here!

With regards to budgets, consider your time constraints in your projects as your 'working budget', it's just not explicitly monetary at first. When you dive into each one project, factor in the values of time and per person hourly contributions to the project as costs, this is certainly something that you can equate to managing, from a monetary point of view. (Hope that makes sense).

If you see the potential, that in itself is your next step forward. What's the current management team like now (i.e. the ones you'll be reporting to)? Have a discussion with them on your outlook into the company. Most important, do they share the same values as you (within the potential growth) and will they actually follow-through with those goals? And perhaps you can also ask them how their supervisors responded to their thoughts on their outlook as well (i.e. were they supported and embraced as well)?

Best Wishes!

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Welcome to project management!

by markand In reply to Take it if you feel a fit ...

The words for this opportunity (and it is a real opportunity) are "project management." In fact its a enough of a science to have its own professional association, The Project Management Institute (see

There are two kinds of work: pushing paper (projects) and pushing people. In project management you have a tough, important task, and that is to negotiate for resources in your company - resources you don't control - to accomplish something that will hopefully benefit everyone.

First question: who is sponsoring this project? If the project is sponsored by the management team, especially corporate officers or their lieutenants, you may have all the authority you need to get resources. Be very judicious in how you use those contacts - don't wear out your welcome in the executive suite. Project management is tough, hard work. It requires enormous amounts of forsight, planning and the ability to explain goals, process, progress and problems SUCCINTLY. Don't burden people with details; have it ready in case you are asked for it.

If you become a capable project manager, with both success AND failure (its unavoidable) under your belt, that's when you can teach others. Then you have something to teach new, direct reports as both a leader and a manager.

Go for it.

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Don't Worry

by sawyerch In reply to Welcome to project manage ...

I'm in a similar situation myself and don't miss the management of either people or budgets. I could do both if asked but find myself in a mentoring situation for all employees in the division including managers higher up the food chain than myself. Reminds me of story about Kennedy in his first campaign for Congress from Boston. Someone in the crowd yelled out "You ain't ever worked a day in your life." There was a brief hush and someone else yelled out, "Don't worry Jack, you haven't missed a thing."

Good Luck

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Current Infrastructure

by RB_ITProfessional In reply to Take it if you feel a fit ...

Thanks for the feedback. The current team is relatively new. There are a total of six people on this team. There are two managers that report directly to the CIO and I would report to one of these managers. The CIO currently is on board with what the team is trying to accomplish. In fact, the team is expected to grow to about 20 people over the next year and a half. The person that I interviewed with told me that there was great growth opportunity for someone like myself getting on board early. I really think the opportuntiy to have Cross Departmental exposure as you say will be a big key for my growth with this company.

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It depends on your organizational culture

by vartkes In reply to A leadership role without ...

This may be positioned to you as a 'leadership' role by your firm. However it can also be positioned as a 'mentor/knowledge organizer' role that may or maynot lead to a management role- a position with some power and authority over some people/budget.
So your filter should be the culture of your firm. Have similar roles like this previously resulted in moves to management. If so go get some coaching from those folks. If this is a new kind of thing perhaps your boss is trying to sell you this role by hinting at 'management potential' and 'leadership' potential.
Hope this helps your perspective.

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People Skills

by GolferGeek In reply to A leadership role without ...

Anytime you have to mentor, direct, liason and/or negotiate you are calling upon people skills to do so. They may not be direct reports in the sense that you evaluate them but they are looking to you for leadership and decision making. It sounds like a good stepping stone to more responsibility and can serve you in other situations. I'd say go for it.

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The more you know...

by GoingMobile In reply to A leadership role without ...

...the better manager you will be when that opportunity comes. My experience in IT is that two types of managers are appreciated: those that understand what their people are doing and can help them grow, and those that know how to manage up to let staff get their work done. So build the project skills and expertise with this opportunity. It should also lead to some good exposure to others in your company -- essential to getting off to a good start as a manager.

However, don't expect to be treated like a [people] manager. You may be working harder and have high expectations placed on you, but you won't get the chance to direct people (subtly, perhaps). Instead, others will be telling you what to do.

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