Dear Coach: Do I Have to Take One for the Team?

May 23, 2024   |   Julie Diamond

What’s the Problem?

Dear Coach,

I have always had a plan in place for my career, and I know exactly what I’d like my next move to be, so I was thrown for a loop when the CEO of my company offered me a different role – a lateral move that will do little to advance my professional agenda, despite it being presented as an important stepping stone to where I’m trying to go.   

I know they need a strong leader in this role and that there are times when you have to “take one for the team” when there’s a gap that needs to be filled. I’m also well aware of the current climate of layoffs and reorgs, which should ultimately make me feel lucky to be offered this position. 

However, I’m not someone who just reacts to whatever is being offered; I’m a careful planner, always advocating for what I want to have happen for me and my career, and this role has nothing to do with that. The thought of showing up to this new job every day really gets me down, and I need advice: Do I really need to take one for the team if it doesn’t suit my plans and aspirations? 


Thrown for a Loop


What Do We Think?

Dear “Thrown for a Loop,”

It can be disorienting when our best-laid plans go awry–especially for a careful planner like yourself. So, let’s discuss the situation.

First, your question tells us that:

  • You feel like you have no ‘real’ choice but to take the new role.
  • You are, at your core, a natural team player; otherwise, this wouldn’t be such an internal struggle for you. 
  • You have a lot of clarity about where you want your career to go. 

So, exactly how is your problem a power problem? We think:

  • You are caught between three powerful forces: the business need (the CEO asking you to take this and fill the gap), your own ambition and drive for where you want to go, and the larger market forces that are creating the overall problem.
  • The larger market forces are, in our opinion, serendipitous – out of your control, unexpected, and creating challenges you didn’t anticipate, which challenges your power.

What’s the Solution?

While being single-minded in your pursuit, sometimes an unforeseen opportunity can provide value you didn’t know you needed.  

To help you reframe the situation and decide how to move forward, we invite you to reflect on power, openness, and opportunity: 

  • Is there utility or type of power you can cultivate in being open to the unexpected? How can you harness that power to your advantage?
  • Being so set in our pursuits can often be like wearing blinders, preventing us from noticing or appreciating other perspectives. Is it possible you have things to learn in a different role that you haven’t seen because your career plans are so firmly formulated? 
  • Consider that this role could be a growth opportunity, really rounding you out as a leader in a way you wouldn’t have recognized had it not come across your path.
  • Imagine you were not a careful planner. If you didn’t know where you wanted to go next in your career, what kind of relationships, opportunities, and learning might exist in this role for you? 

You may be making assumptions about this role that aren’t wholly accurate, so a good first step is to get as much information as you can to ensure you have the whole picture. 

Once you have that, consider what you can add to or change about the role to make it more to your liking. Since the CEO really wants you here, perhaps you have some leverage to make changes to the role so it’s better aligned with your career goals. 

At the end of the day, you do have a choice. You can always say “no” and see where the chips fall. But we hope you’ll consider that there might be great power in going where the river takes you, opening yourself up to something unexpected. You never know; it could be just the right thing!  


Each month, we answer questions we often get from the leaders we work with and unpack how, at the end of the day, every problem is a power problem. If you have an issue you just can’t solve, get in touch! We’d love to answer your questions in an upcoming Dear Coach post. Find us at [email protected], or on LinkedInFacebook, or Twitter.