Looking for a lesser version of the word "despite".

A few buddies of mine were discussing our first job out of college where we all worked together, and brought up our boss who pretty much did nothing. Basically things would have been no different in our department if he wasn’t there at all, although some things went very right, which of course he got credit for. Now I’ve heard more than once someone describe something as successful despite some factor, and that’s exactly what one of us said about our department, but I don’t think that despite is the word I’d have used. To me despite implies that our boss’ leadership was actually a determent, when really it was more like no help and no hurt. I guess you could consider the lack of leadership to be a determent because a manager would typically be expected to contribute, but like I said, things ran pretty well, it was really just no thanks to our boss.

So, rather than say our department was “successful despite our manager”, can anyone think of a similar but toned down phrase that means more or less “successful no thanks to our manager”? If feel like the word or phrase I’m looking for is right on the tip of my tongue, but I can’t come up with how I’d state it.

I don’t think the problem is “despite,” although “notwithstanding” might be softer. The problem is “despite our manager,” when what you’ve expressed is, “despite our manager’s lack of leadership.”

Successful absent any help from the manager.

Successful even though the manager was about as useful as a bucket of warm spit.

Not as successful as it would have been if the manager had bothered to put an oar in the water.

And, really: Successful in spite of the manager not doing anything.

Regardless, irrelevant, with no help from, independent of. . .

He was superfluous.

Irrespective of

with little input from