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It’s been said that other people sometimes know us better than we know ourselves. That can be especially true when it comes to finding new job opportunities.
The best kinds of leaders are those that care about their employees and want them to succeed. A key part of that is recognizing that talented employees can do more when given more responsibility, seniority, and oversight.
When DowDuPont Inc. CFO Howard Ungerleider saw how well Beth Nicholas performed as an accounting director, he promoted her to global finance director for Dow’s agricultural products unit.
“It was one of those moments where you pause and the tummy turns a little bit,” Nicholas told the Wall Street Journal. “You should feel uncomfortable when you take a new job because the opportunity to grow is so vast.”
Nicholas spent a week pondering the decision but ultimately said yes. It wasn’t long until she proved Ungerleider’s instincts correct; under Nicholas’ leadership, her unit posted record earnings. Ungerleider eventually promoted Nicholas to the role of chief tax officer, a position she’ll assume in January 2018.
It can be difficult to push people into jobs that they don’t feel qualified for, which is why it’s incredibly important for bosses to be proactive in acknowledging talented employees. Ilene H. Lang, president and CEO of Catalyst, believes that supervisors best support promising employees when they advocate for them within the workplace.
“Effective sponsors also provide career coaching and guidance that enables protégés to make broader and more strategic contributions to their organizations,” Lang said.
This is especially true for advancing women in the workplace. Research shows that women tend not to apply for jobs that they aren’t already highly qualified to do. When bosses recognize talented female employees and encourage them to apply for a “stretch job”—a job that they have the skill set to succeed in but doesn’t seem like a natural next step or fit—they’re contributing to the growth of the entire organization.
In Beth Nicholas’ case, Ungerleider knew that she didn’t have the traditional credentials of other corporate chief tax officers. She may not have attended law school, but Ungerleider saw Nicholas’ excellent collaboration skills as a more crucial asset to DowDuPont Inc.’s company-wide goals.
Jessica Bigazzi Foster, a senior partner at consulting firm RHR International, says that these moments benefit bosses on a personal level as well. When leaders recount the stories of their careers, “a consistent theme is that somebody took a chance on them and helped them make a significant leap—without checking all the boxes,” Foster said to the Wall Street Journal.
If you’re looking for your significant leap but don’t want to sit and wait for somebody to notice you, here are some proactive strategies you can utilize today:
This post previously appeared on Fairygodboss, which helps women get the inside scoop on pay, corporate culture, benefits, and work flexibility. Founded in 2015, Fairygodboss offers company ratings, job listings, discussion boards, and career advice.
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