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  • Janeen Shaffer, PCC

How to expand your role into areas you want.

Many organizations have been experiencing shifts in priorities. This can provide opportunities to expand your responsibilities into areas of interest and strength. And, in turn, may lead to new roles via exposure to other leaders and teams seeing your impact and results. What are some concrete ways you can make this happen?

  1. Notice an opportunity: Is your leader or department being asked to shift services? Has your leadership or priorities changed? Is the team being asked to do a large process differently? These are examples of opportunities where senior leaders appreciate hearing from their team about how an individual’s strengths can help to reach new targets or goals. The senior leaders may think of new individuals to lead such efforts, but sometimes in the flurry of major changes, they may lean on those they know better or who have helped them in crisis before, and forget to tap into additional team members who can add value and results.

  2. Think about the benefits and consequences of offering to do more: Often when you are thinking of expanding the reach of your current role, you are doing it to demonstrate your readiness to transition to a more senior level position. You want to select an opportunity that will highlight your capability and specific interests. For example, if the opportunity demonstrates your ability to problem solve but you are already known well for that skill and it doesn’t offer any extra benefits such as exposure to new leaders or teams in the organization, then, is there benefit in volunteering for extra work? If the opportunity gives you the chance to highlight your strengths in areas and with leaders where you haven’t had much visibility, and if it provides an opportunity to create a positive impact on the organization, then there are strong advantages to taking on this responsibility. The bottomline: there is little advantage to signing up for something that shows the same skills to the same leaders, only perpetuating an existing storyline of your potential. Your time and energy are precious, and strategically choosing tasks to raise your hand with clear intentions provides targeted advantages.

  3. Make the request: Many organizations have created a culture where it is your responsibility to use your voice and express an interest to lead an effort or be a major contributor. What could that look like? The steps you can take are:

a.) Speak with your leader and share your request.

b.) Provide context around the request as to where your skills and strengths are an asset.

c.) Discuss possible next steps and timelines.

d.) Be prepared to have talking points about how you would integrate the extra work into your current responsibilities.

An example would be: “(Share your request) I want to have a conversation about the meeting we had last week regarding our department being asked to meet the product launch deadlines more consistently by shortening the timelines. I would like to be considered as one of the leaders taking on this effort for the department. (Put context around your strengths) My team has been successful the last three quarters in meeting or beating our product implementation deadlines. We have worked hard to adjust our communication protocols, to better integrate our marketing and technology teams, and to adjust our Agile practices. I really enjoy these types of process improvement efforts and believe our team’s best practices and lessons learned could be helpful in our department efforts. (Next steps and timelines) I am sharing my interest with you because I know the department leadership is organizing a team over the next two weeks to begin working on this effort. I’d like to understand your perspective on this effort and if there is anyone else over the next week that I should talk to about helping to lead this effort? (Share how to integrate the extra work) I understand this would be additional work. My plan is to work with you to review existing priorities to see if I could shift a couple of deadlines or incorporate other individuals on my team to assist with some of my existing responsibilities, serving as a stretch opportunity for them. I look forward to hearing your feedback.”

What is the worst that could be said? “No.” At least you would have let your leader know more about your interests and where you see avenues to create a larger impact. It can also provide you feedback on how your leader views your effectiveness and skills, and where you may need to improve your efforts to be considered for stretch roles. On the positive side, you may be given the opportunity. I often hear senior leaders say that they wish their team would share their interests more or be more eager in offering to help. The way you handle these conversations can teach your leader about your goals, can demonstrate how you communicate on priorities and impact, and create opportunities for you to be proactive in helping yourself and the organization succeed.

Janeen Shaffer is a PCC certified coach helping individuals and leaders with their internal development and external performance. If the article resonated with you … follow me on LinkedIn, or contact me at,, IG @janeen.shaffer, Pinterest Shaffer Coaching + Consulting.


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