The Power of Latino Leadership, History Lessons for Future Leadership

Latino Leadership

Can Latinos play a role in overcoming many of the challenges affecting our society? Can the rich, festive and collaborative heritage of the fastest growing segment of our population bring some PASSION and GUSTO to the workplace?

Last month I was asked to write a review for The Power of Latino Leadership by author and international speaker, Juana Bordas.

Reading the book has been an emotional roller coaster and a transformational experience for me.  I was in tears one minute,laughing aloud a few minutes later, and bursting with pride as I finished the book.

The tears came as Juana’s words taught me about the injustices the Hispanic people have suffered over the centuries, and the laughter came as I read about the funny things we do as a culture. The pride developed as I understood how our heritage as atinos can help us lead positive change, not only in the workplace, but in society as well.

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A must read for everyone!

Whether you are Latino or not, it is important to understand that an immense generational shift is occurring.

The Millennials are the largest and most diverse generation in history and Latinos compose 20 percent of the Millennials.   In addition, one in five school children today is Hispanic, as is one in four newborns. Never before has an ethnic group made up so large a share of the youngest Americans.

The numbers are telling us that young Latinos will shape the twenty-first century.

Among other insights, Juana explains 4 intergenerational leadership practices that any business or community leader should understand in order to maximize the unique talents of the next generation of Hispanics.

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The 4 Practices are:

~ Change Mentors to Allies

This is the concept of being an ally or an “aliado” with those we teach.  Instead of mentoring and teaching, we should approach young Latinos as allies for mutual help, support and shared learning.

~ Develop Circular Relationships

Cooperation between generations requires older leaders to shake off a belief that they always know best or should be in charge. Young people must develop patience to learn from and respect the achievements of those who have come before them.

~ Promote Meaningful Participation

Hands-on participation increases skills development as well as a sense of commitment and ownership. For intergenerational leadership to be “real,” responsibility and power have to be distributed. Young people must share the decision-making power and be considered equal players.

~ Foster Social Action: 

Millennials, and the growing Latino youth population, will become the political and social activists of this century. In these pressing times, leaders are compelled to pass on their knowledge, perspectives, and experiences on how to promote social change to the younger generation so they have the tools to address the critical issues they will face.

Leading Beyond the Status Quo

As soon as I learned about Juana, I invited her as a guest on my weekly leadership podcast, Leading Beyond the Status Quo.  In the first of two shows, I asked Juana about her background as a leader and the importance to these intergenerational practices when it comes to working with up and coming Latino leaders. Listen here

As Juana explains, examining our ancestry, parents, family history, the circumstances of your birth, early experiences, significant events, talents, and inherent gifts or positive attributes can steer the way to a deeper understanding of our destiny, or destino.

On Destino and Conciencia

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As Juana explains, the principle of destino addresses the unique pattern of a leader’s life; it is sometimes referred to as a person’s calling or purpose.  When leaders have conciencia, they understand how their special talents, life events, passion, and interests integrate into their unique calling. Then by embracing their destino, their leadership path unfolds.

Destino is the integrating factor of a leader’s life.

One of the most important lessons for me was the actual meaning of the word Conciencia.  Conciencia is about understanding who am I as a person and what I can contribute as a leader.  Then based on that understanding, I pursue the contribution I can make to lead positive change in the workplace AND society.

This is important because many of us have learned the meaning of the word  Conciencia  as a synonym for remorse or as we say in spanish REMORDIMIENTO.

This is a secondary meaning, that, although important, misses the key area of leadership as an inner process and the bigger calling of leadership, or your ESSENCE of being which is to develop a stronger and more productive community by serving and helping other lead positive change.

If we misunderstand our conciencia we may pursue leadership as a way to make profit and succeed financially.  It may be easier to prioritize financial gain and professional advancement above and beyond the people we work with, the community we work in, and the environment.

I asked Juana about the broader meaning of leadership during our second interview. Listen here

Preparing us for the future…

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The picture above is one of my favorite family pictures. Not only does the image capture a magic moment of my father holding my daughter, the frame says so much about the role he and my late mother had in her upbringing.

As a second generation Latino, who missed so much critical information about our culture and why I am the way I am, why I do the things I do, I simply can’t recommend this book enough.  Whether Latino or not, The Power of Latino Leadership prepares us for our future by teaching us about the past.


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Al Gonzalez
Al Gonzalez is Founding Partner at GIVE Leadership
He helps clients develop trust and leverage the strengths of all team members
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Image Sources: Al Gonzalez

L2L Contributing Author