An HR exec who's worked at Starbucks and Coach shares the best way to impress your boss

Traci WilkLeadership 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 Starbucks.
  • Wilk said she wants to see people thinking about how their role contributes to the larger organisation.

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 Experience, 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 organisation,” 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 organisation 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 you

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 organisation,” she said, “from the most entry-level role up to and including your CEO.”

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.