You Don’t Gain Control with a Promotion
When I was a Senior Engineer, I thought if I moved into a Tech Lead role, I’d have more say and control over what the team did. When I was a Tech Lead, I thought if I moved into a Head of Engineering role, I’d have more say and control over what the department did. I’ve found myself to be wrong both times, and both times, it’s felt like I’ve had less say and less control than I thought I’d have.
As a Senior Engineer, I wanted things to be built and created a certain way, so moving into a Tech Lead position seemed like the logical way to do that. But once in that role, my problems became so much wider that I didn’t have the time to get into the details of how one thing was coded and created. Over time, as Tech Lead, I wanted things to be architectured and built a certain way, so moving into the Head of Engineering position seemed like the logical way to do that. But once in that role, my problems became so much wider that I didn’t have the time to get into the details of how architectures were built or created.
The point is that you can influence and solve the problems you have, right now, in the role you’ve already got. Maybe you’ll need permission, but you can get that if you need it. Getting promoted into a role doesn’t give you any power to fix the problems you had before because those are now someone else’s problems. When you’re promoted, you’ll be solving the problems of that role, not the role you’re in. You’ll be playing a different ballgame, in a whole other arena, that’ll make the problems of your previous role pale in comparison.