Security Job Titles Revisited

So I had an another thought along the lines of Security Job Titles. I threw out a tweet regarding the “Team Lead” title. There are a number of people that I’ve discussed this with at my day job and the opinion varied between a manager-in-training and the most technical of the team. While I think my coworkers are pretty knowledgeable, they don’t necessarily know what goes on outside our company so I thought I’d ask what others thought: “Team lead: top techy on the team or manager in training…and why?” Here are a few of the answers I’ve gotten from followers on Twitter:

While they left off the “…and why?”, I can understand the line of thinking. Others were definitely in a similar mindset but provided some additional detail:

  • @securityninja – “For us it is generally management as well as lead techy, we are line managers for the team and all others in it”

Two people came close to what I would assume when someone tells me that they are the “Team lead”:

  • @rogueclown – “manager in training. i’m surely biased, but i’d still like to spend my time dealing with cranky computers, not managing people.”
  • @georgiaweidman – “id say the one with the best skills for managing regardless of whether job title is tech or business side. case by case basis”

There were also those that pointed out that someone else shouldn’t choose for the individual and I completely agree:

  • @jjarmoc – “either, sometimes both. But forcing good techies into management roles is often a mistake.”
  • @DSchwartzberg – “I believe it’s up to the individual. Why-because any role you take can be what you make of it. Criticism comes with the outcome”

I think that when it comes down to it, the title is going to vary based on the company. Some organizations may see it as the most technically capable person on that team, where others may see it as a mid-level management layer to keep the day to day operations going. One suggestion I can offer is to split the title in two: Tech Lead / Team Lead. One for the most seasoned/knowledgeable, the other for the area manager.

The one thing that I’m getting out of all this is that a job title can’t tell you what a person is capable of or what they do day-to-day. Leave me a note and tell me what you think. Are job titles a convoluted jumble of words or something you should fight for and own as part of your career?

One thought on “Security Job Titles Revisited”

  1. I’ve seen “team lead” used both ways – 1. subject matter expert who provides direction and mentorship and 2. supervisor/manager or stripped-down version of supervisor/manager without some of the normally associated responsibilities (performance management, strategy, etc.). It’s interesting that you and other used the words “technical” and “techie” to describe the role since these titles are also used in groups and roles that are only partly technical or not really considered technical at all.

    I too find it interesting that job titles do a poor job describing the individual’s role. That’s always been the case and I think it’s futile to try to change that. Establishing the right organizational structure, roles, and responsibilities is critical though. A mature org will create technical and managerial tracks and hybrid roles. Regardless of what the intent of a tech lead role is, giving someone managerial responsibility who lacks the required competencies is a terrible move, as is expecting the person with the most technical knowledge to be able to guide, mentor, train, and motivate others.

    Like

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