Lead with Cultura

By Lisa Manafian

Hispanic/Latino women have a distinct advantage when it comes to competing for and succeeding in leadership positions: Their culture. That is, provided they recognize and

harness the gifts their culture has to offer, according to Marisa Rivera-Albert, president of the National Hispana Leadership Institute (NHLI), an organization dedicated to the education and leadership development of Hispanic/Latino women.

Through her instruction, Rivera-Albert helps women realize and use their cultural assets to compete for top-level positions. “Your cultural background shapes you and the way you lead,” she says. “Offer no excuses for your identity.”

Rivera-Albert urges women to exercise these culturally distinctive leadership assets:

  • Consulting with others is an effective team-building strategy that boosts workers’ confidence and taps into every available resource. “As Latinas, we work collectively -- we consult, we ask questions and we take advice,” says Rivera-Albert.
  • Maintaining a strong work ethic reveals your character and builds trust among those you are leading. “This reflects an ability to be well-prepared and earnest leaders,” she says.
  • Being bicultural and bilingual gives insight and enhances conflict-resolution skills.

According to Rivera-Albert, leadership happens on every level -- from setting personal goals and objectives, to leading groups of people in the workplace. Her first lesson is self-knowledge. “To lead others, you must first know yourself and be comfortable with whom you are,” she says.

If your goal is to move forward, whether to become a small-group leader or a CEO, Rivera-Albert suggests you “develop a mission statement that defines personal objectives and outlines what you hope to accomplish in your work and what you expect from others.”

Break Through the Cultural Ceiling: Assert Your Voice

While your culture is an asset, there will be instances when you might need to break away from cultural tendencies. Rivera-Albert affirms, “Your culture has taught you to be pleasant, noble and kind, and never to question authority.” But if your goal is to move forward, whether to become a small group leader or a CEO, asserting yourself may be required. “You have to be able to argue, negotiate or raise your voice if you need to,” she explains. Leaders must be good communicators and need to establish an authoritative voice.

As the president of a nationally renowned program, Rivera-Albert has taken deliberate risks and attributes her success to three things: persistence, performance and y mucho corazon, or a lot of heart. “You need to persist, because there will be many closed doors, but if you persist, you will triumph,” she says. “And put your heart into everything you do. If you’re doing something that you’re just not into, you need to move on; you’re in the wrong place.”

Copyright 2003 - TMP Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This article first appeared on Monster, the leading online global network for careers. To see other career-related articles, visit http://content.monster.com/