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Impress your boss by taking initiative, says former Starbucks HR exec



Traci Wilk
Leadership is about how you work to support others,
says Traci Wilk, pictured.


  • You can impress your boss by
    stepping up to tackle important challenges in other parts of
    the company.
  • That’s according to Traci Wilk, senior vice president
    of people at The Learning Experience and a former HR exec at
  • Wilk said she wants to see people thinking about how
    their role contributes to the larger organization.

Traci Wilk’s best advice for impressing your boss boils down to a
single idea: Think less about yourself.

Wilk is the senior vice president of people at The Learning
, an early education and childcare franchise. She
has also led human resources departments at Starbucks, Coach, and
rag & bone.

Wilk told Business Insider about the importance of being a leader
— which doesn’t necessarily mean that you manage a team of
people. Leadership is about “how you work to support others and
understanding that the role that you play is only contributing to
the larger organization,” she said.

When she’s evaluating an employee’s performance, Wilk considers:
“Is this someone who is going to always be focused on helping
others move along?” Those “others” might be your peers or even
your own manager, she said.

Practically speaking, that might mean volunteering to work on
projects in other departments. Another question Wilk considers
is: “Is this somebody that can see when there’s a challenge in a
part of the organization that may not have a direct impact [on
their role], but they see that they can be helpful?”

In meetings, Wilk is always on the lookout for “who’s willing to
step up and be a leader and say, ‘OK, I’m going to take this
challenge and I’m going to either go off and do the research on
my own or I’m going to help others.'”

Read more:
11 simple ways to make your boss love

Wilk’s insights recall those of James Caan, CEO of private-equity
firm Hamilton Bradshaw. Caan
wrote on LinkedIn
that being a problem solver is a surefire
way to impress your boss.

Caan wrote: “Analyse your department and the overall business.
Where are the inefficiencies or problems which you think you can
solve? … Every manager is impressed by self-starters, and
somebody who takes the initiative in areas where the business may
be weak is putting themselves high up the list for a promotion.”

On the flip side, Sujan Patel, cofounder of growth marketing
agency Web Profits,
wrote on Inc.
that “one thing that makes you entirely
unpromotable is only being willing to do the exact tasks that are
specified in your job description.”

As for Wilk, she’s impressed by leadership in any form. “There’s
all different types of leaders in an organization,” she said,
“from the most entry-level role up to and including your CEO.”

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