A: My role in working with corporations is to assist them be more inclusive and to value the assets differences bring to the table. I support businesses in tapping the potential of their diverse talent. Because of this I don’t feel like a “token. My unique background and experiences can assist mainstream organizations look at things from a new perspective, improve the working environment, and enhance the bottom line. Diversity fosters excellence and achievement.
Q: How do you nurture your Latinidad? What customs do you hold most dear?
A: In the Latino community close friends become comadres and compadres and part of your family. I have many of these types of relationships that nurture me, support me, and keep me connected to my Latina soul.
I love to salas – I started dancing in the arms of my father as a child and continue to be fascinated with the Latin rhythms. I also love the many varieties of hot spicy salsa condiments. And my mother taught me that to have salsa en la vida - is to live with passion and to celebrate the everyday.
A favorite custom is Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead). I create an altar with flowers, candles, pictures and special mementos from my mother and father and those who have gone before me. I am deeply respectful of the contributions of my ancestors. Latinos must remember that the journey to get where we are today has been long and difficult. We owe it all to our families and past leaders – we stand on their shoulders.
Q: Your leadership program has trained over 500 Latina leaders. Is this program only for older Latinas who are already at the top of their profession? Do you keep track of them and make sure that they are living up to their potential?
A: The leadership programs I have developed are not for older Latinas. In fact, the Circle of Latina Leadership is an intergenerational model where emerging leaders (ages 25-40) are mentored by established leaders and the emerging leaders are encouraged to work with junior high teens.
National Hispana Leadership Institute graduates are community leaders and the program’s intent is to prepare them for a national scope. Graduates are encouraged to mentor two younger Latinas. In this way the critical mass of leaders that will be needed to move the Latino community forward grows.
The leadership programs I work with across the country are for young and emerging leaders. Older Latinas are called to share their experiences and to help prepare the next generation of leaders.
Assessing these programs’ success is difficult since this requires follow-up, funding and research. What we do know is that Latinos/as who graduate are becoming leaders in their community and across the country. Moreover they have a network of leaders who can support them as they advance. Latino leaders are on the move and much of the credit for this goes to the many, many programs, mentors, and support they have received including the programs I have developed.
Q: In your new book, you offer 10 principles of how Latinos lead their communities. Can you share a couple of them with us? And how different are those principles from and for non-Latinos?
A: Traditionally leadership was in the hands of the privileged few and was hierarchical in nature. Latino leadership on the other hand is leadership by the many —the thousands of Latino leaders working every day in communities across the country. The principle – Juntos – Collective Community Stewardship signifies that leadership is accessible to many people. Juntos means “union, being close, joining, being together.” Latino leaders encourage people to tap into their own power and become leaders in their own right. This turns the old hierarchical pyramid upside down and signifies that everyone has a contribution to make.
Another principle De Colores – Inclusiveness and Diversity reflects the fact that Latinos are a cultural and ethnic group, not a race. Latinos are Brown, Black, White, Yellow, and all the beautiful hues in between. Some Latinos have ancestors who were here before this country was the US. Others have recently immigrated. Our extended families are composed of multiple generations. These differences drive an inclusive leadership form rooted in the culture’s expansive diversity. Latino leadership is one of coalition building, bringing people together, working across sectors, and embracing a consciousness of partnership. Latino leaders leverage the power of inclusion.
Latinos leadership is also international in scope since Latinos maintain close ties to their twenty-two nations of origin and are culturally linked with people in North, Central, and South America. Furthermore, until the last decade, over 40 percent of Latino growth was fueled by immigrants who bring hope, determination, and replenish the cultural core. A principle of Latino leadership that results is Global Vision and Immigrant Spirit – a particularly valuable asset in our global age.
In a cultura that regenerates through fiestas and celebrations, gozar la vida is a principle that flavors the leadership process to be congenial and to include good times and laughter. Before and after any gathering or meeting, a social window must be open to allow people to connect and communicate. Leaders make tasks exciting, meaningful, a chance to work with friends, and make new ones. Commemorating group achievements and individual contributions, recognizing anniversaries and birthdays are ways to celebrate people. A hard and fast rule is to celebrate small and large wins, and always serve food.
Q: What are your favorite dichos that have helped you get where you are today?
A: Mi casa es su casa is the most important and well-know. It is the first commandment of generosity and encapsulates the joy in sharing. It implies “What I have is also yours.” In the Latino culture, possessions are more fluid and communal. People take pleasure in giving things away. Mi casa es su casa frames leadership as service and as caring for people. It counsels leaders, “Give of your time and ideas. Be generous and share your talents. Value people and tend to their needs.” I have greatly benefited from this dicho which enriches my life and that of others.
I love the dicho “El Camarón que se duerme, se lo lleva la corriente,” – the shrimp that sleeps gets carried away by the current. This dicho teaches children to be alert, aware, and to understand the “current” or environment they are in. Steven Covey in SEVEN HABITS OF EFFECTIVE PEOPLE noted that being pro-active was the number one leadership habit. This dicho teaches this and is evident in the way Latinos are adept at maneuvering through life’s situations.###
We thank Ms. Bordas for joining The Latina Book Club today, and we wish her much success with her new book and on her blog tour. To learn more about this inspiring woman, please visit her website: www.mestizaleadership.com.
June 26 -- Latina Geeks
June 27 -- Que Means What & Amigapreneur
June 28 -- Pa'lante Latino
FCC DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this book, but I was not paid for a review nor was a positive reviewed guaranteed.