Every engineer I meet advocates for standards. Usually the more dogmatic ones are the worse ones. This doesn't make you a 10x force multiplier (telling people to lint makes them 2% more productive tops). Usually these "standards" people though have a negative effect because they get into a dick-contest over the most trivial details (e.g. tabs/spaces).
Even if cross-team collaboration-roles are important, what makes them a step "above" a senior engineer? If the skillset has no relation to problem-solving, it really isn't an engineering role.
What ACTUALLY happens is companies like pretty hierarchies at a 10:1 ratio. They like these hierarchies regardless of the distribution of skill, and the titles rarely align with the skill. Then they come up with a bunch of buzzwords as they grow until they succeed like uber/twitter at losing a billion dollars a year and go out of business.
Architecture is questions like should this class of functionality be services or objects and why? Do these 3 functions belong in this class, or should they be a helper? Should this helper be copied between repos or be a separate module with a formal API?
I agree with your point though that every engineer makes the decisions and having a separate role for them is weird.
The progression is usually: Team, Cross-team, Organization, Industry. Competent technical decisions are table stakes. The real differentiator is at what level can they effect change.
"Leader" is one of the worst buzzword bingo terms in a company. It means nothing, it's just a convenient label to give people who you feel like promoting to maintain the 10:1 ratio.
You could argue Linus Torvald is an industry leader, or you could argue he doesn't show adequate leadership for cross-team.
Or maybe more succinctly: "If a great manager screws up, he should lay awake at night until he fixes it, just as a great engineer would wake up to fix a production issue."
These traits combined with a scope of influence is what I was referencing.
I do believe in leadership, in the abstract. But at the end of the day companies do whatever the hell people in power choose to (e.g. Fire Steve jobs, promote their friend, hire somebody sexy) and then come up with fancy meaningless words after the fact.
"Force multiplier" and "cross-team leader" are among those. If you really wanted to promote "leaders" then have engineers vote on who gets promoted...
You may want to ask yourself if your viewpoints are a case of WYSIATI bias or a generalizable fact about how businesses are run.
I've had good managers before, I'm not sure why you're saying I haven't, or how that's related to my central claim.
Also "WYSIATI" is a misdirection. You could suggest that to anybody in any argument (I could suggest it to you now). But without providing any evidence of what those unseen factors are it's of no probative value.
I don't think you're trying to understand my point in good faith anymore so I'll leave it here.
This mindset seems corrosive. I assume you had good managers, but I cannot imagine a career in which that was the norm would result in such cynicism.
My point was only this: in my experience, healthy organizations have a better value systems.
That's very basic design. System architecture goes up to: "how do we deploy 2 million hosts across 40 datacenters?"