Full disclosure: I am not a project manager. However, no other group on stack exchange seemed more likely to be able to comment constructively.

In the company where I am about to begin work, each development team has an architect/team lead and a Team Manager. I am taking on the Team Manager role, though it currently seems a little poorly defined.

My question is: how do the responsibilities of these two roles differ? I expect that they may overlap in some places. I have been told I am responsible for everything. Meaning, the architect has to convince me before he can proceed. But who is supposed to do what on a daily basis? How do I manage and lead the team without usurping the Team Lead's job?

(I should add that there is also a ScrumMaster assigned to the team.)

  • Not sure how this question is different from this one: pm.stackexchange.com/questions/1497/…. Is there a way someone can merge the two questions because they sound very similar. If they are different an elaboration on a a clear distinction between the two might help. Apr 6, 2011 at 5:32
  • 2
    @thosandtyone the questions look similar, but the difference is significant: "project" and "team" are very different things.
    – yegor256
    Apr 6, 2011 at 5:43
  • can you clarify is there is also a "product owner" role assigned on the project, and if the project is indeed following the Scrum approach as the presence of a ScrumMaster implies? If there is no product owner, I can easily see the "team manager" adopting those responsibilities as well, in addition to the items I outlined below. If you edit your question to clarify, I should be able to update the answer appropriately. Apr 7, 2011 at 5:55
  • Vanessa, if you have found one of the answers particularly useful/accurate, please flag it as an answer. Apr 25, 2011 at 3:14

6 Answers 6


This sounds like a very challenging situation to be walking into. My guess as to the expectations across the three roles would be generally as follows. While this guess is based on the large number of organizations I've delivered with, each organization tends to define these things in their own ways.

  • Team Manager: Some or all team members are direct reports of the team manager. The team manager is responsible for vacation requests, annual reviews, any HR-based intervention, and hopefully career management/mentoring activities. The team manager probably has veto power over most anything, but should rarely exercise it. In the absence of a ScrumMaster, the manager also likely takes on many of the facilitative roles and ensures important stakeholders aren't being ignored (but does not become the conduit for those stakeholders).
  • Team Lead: This is generally the senior or most respected individual contributor of the team. There's an implicit understanding that the team will generally support decisions made by the team lead, and the lead will also take on much responsibility for the technical training and development of the team.
  • ScrumMaster: This is a defined facilitative and coaching role of the Scrum process. I recommend doing a little research on the role, perhaps starting at the (Wikipedia article).

Most importantly, spend some time with the people around you and understand what they believe their role and your role are all about.

  • Thank you. I do intend to feel out what the others on the team think my role really is. I am a very senior technical resource, so I could easily be a resource for the Team Lead. There are also other Team Managers on other teams I can ask about their roles. I was just wondering if others had encountered this arrangement before and what they had to say about it. Arranging people's vacation time, etc. would be a very poor use of my abilities! Apr 5, 2011 at 20:37

An IT Project Manager is primarily involved in "People and Project Management". An Architect / Technical Lead is involved in "Technology Management". These two streams very seldom cross each others paths. When it does it's when the project plan is prepared and inputs from both are important.

A project manager knows the availability of the members of the team, including that of the Architect, and is usually allocated the budget for the project.

An Architect decides on the designs, technology, components and other technical aspects of the project.


I agree with Eric, he's approach to answer the question sounds quite reasonable.

In a nutshell, I'd say that the difference between Team Leader and Team Manager is:

  • Team Manager: Responsible for the team estimates / deliverables. It's usually someone with high management skills, as the name says. The Team manager is the bridge between the client and the development team. As pointed by Eric, the Team Manager is also responsible for non-technical tasks for his team members.

  • Team Leader: Head of the development team, which might have a closer contact with the Team Manager even having other developers in the team. It's usually someone with high development skills. The Team Lead is the bridge between the Team Manager and the other developers.

Is a kind of 'granularity' of responsibilities.

As you're a Team Manager, discuss with other team managers about their roles in their teams; these tasks changes quite often from company to company.



In my past, I have come across Team leaders who actually stays with the team beyond the lifespan of a project. So as the team moves from project to project, the structure and the makeup of the team is essentially the same.

If the leadership was only valid for the duration of a project, they would normally be titled as Project Leader.

However, every company that I have dealt with have their own spin on the roles these positions take on. It can get quite complicated if the roles have large grey areas of responsibilities between the team manager and the team leader.


Both terms are vague, but this is my understanding of them. Team Manager is a functional manager of a business unit (the team). Team Lead is the one with the strongest formal/informal leadership inside the business unit.


I've found that sometimes mixing up the attendees will bring out new ideas. If you put a vendor, a user and a couple of the team members in one group, they will start to look at the ideas from a different perspective.

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