Tricky Situation: The Importance of Advocating for Yourself

Goal Setting in the New Year

At The Center for Leadership Excellence, a key component in our Coaching Practice is the need for our clients to keep a Success Diary of all their significant accomplishments. We do this for several reasons – not only so they can be reminded of where they are adding value in their position, but also as a “record” to support their case when asking for a raise or a promotion should they ever need it.

Learning to be an “advocate” for yourself is critically important because we know that most advocacy tends to happen behind the scenes when we are not even in the room. Because of this, we must find ways to help those important “others” know about our contributions!  However, being too blatant in how we self-promote in the workplace can often backfire, as others may see us as narcissistic, egotistical, and ultimately unconcerned about the greater good.  Finding a workable strategy that will help us advance our careers, while not making us seem like a shameless self-promoter, is tricky, but not impossible!

Take this case with a recent client:
I had been Coaching Karen, a Marketing Leader, and as part of a stretch assignment she was given the opportunity to lead an important project for her organization. A key reason she had been given this lead role was because of her stellar reputation of consistently delivering quality projects in the past. This new initiative not only had the potential to reach hundreds of untapped customers, but it also had the capacity to stream-line processes that could save the company thousands of dollars once fully implemented!  And, as Karen expressed, it was her hope that when that happened, she would have the opportunity to lead this new initiative, permanently. But she also knew that to get real consideration, she’d have to demonstrate a broader vision and a deeper sense of the strategic and competitive landscape than she had in her past roles.

In our coaching we worked to help Karen project a learning mindset that demonstrated her ability to be open to new experiences, showcase a sense of curiosity and inquiry, as well as have a willingness to question assumptions, biases, and perspectives. We also worked on strategies that demonstrated her ability to be collaborative, work with and through others, and to get things done. 

We also knew that to get the attention of others Karen needed to create a platform where she could share the successes she and her team were having on this project. We strategized together on ways to make certain that the “right” people (people she knew had influence) were invited to participate in these updates.

Because this was such a long project, we discussed scheduling a bi-monthly “cadence” to share project milestones and progress.  These sessions were purposely designed to be short and factual, but impactful, in order to give other key leaders the opportunity to ask questions, as well as share their feedback.  This not only served the purpose of highlighting key successes, but helped others understand how their expectations were being met and make any adjustments accordingly.

In the end, Karen was able to bring this project in on time, and with the cost-savings that had been projected.  Because she had been strategic in her communication, making certain that all the right people were kept informed, she not only achieved her goal to lead this new initiative permanently, but she did this with a promotion, both in job title and salary!

What’s important in this situation and in others, is that Karen had a goal and a plan- and didn’t just rely on others to get the position she wanted. She was actively engaged in making it happen. By her words and actions, she raised the awareness of others to help her move ahead.

Self-advocacy is truly about communicating – communicating your needs, your goals, your accomplishments, and your desires. There are lots of ways to self-advocate and we can help you find the way that is “right” for you!  

For more information on this and other services from The Center for Leadership Excellence, visit our website at or reach out to Patty Prosser, Coaching Practice Leader, at or at 317-727-6464.

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