“Leading with conviction means acting boldly, taking clear stands, and being willing to take risks (even when it makes you vulnerable to failure and ridicule) to preserve core values and create a future you care about”……Resilient Leadership 2.0. Bob Duggan & Bridgette Theurer.

This article explores the different dimensions of leading with conviction, the potential barriers Latina leaders could face in embodying these dimensions, and how to navigate the challenges with courage and authenticity.

Acting Boldly

Acting boldly as a leader typically involves exhibiting confidence in one’s abilities and vision and the willingness to make courageous decisions and take decisive action. Bold leadership often requires stepping outside one’s comfort zone, challenging the status quo, and taking calculated risks to drive progress and achieve goals. In organizations, bold leadership involves influencing stakeholders, managing objections successfully, driving forward agendas, and holding the discomfort of unpopular decisions.

Potential Barriers to Acting Boldly:

Making courageous decisions challenging the status quo might be a stretch for Latinas who have grown up in cultural norms emphasizing respect for authority and hierarchy. Bringing a controversial idea to their boss and gaining their support implies feeling comfortable pushing back and arguing for their points with their level up and above.

If English is not their first language, many Latinas might feel less confident expressing complex ideas and hesitant to speak up in meetings when the stakes are high.

Another factor that might discourage Latinas from bringing a high profile to specific meetings is the need for more representation. Suppose they are the only ones in the room that look like them. In that case, this can contribute to disenfranchisement and awkwardness. They might be responding to micro aggressions from those who wonder if they have what it takes or if they deserve a seat at those tables.

How to Act More Boldly:

  1. Intercept your inner critic self-judgment to claim your power, embracing a more confident you.
  2. Permit yourself to succeed by proactively pursuing opportunities to get ahead and articulating your career ambitions.
  3. Embrace your unique strengths, leverage your diverse cultural perspectives, and take intentional steps to assert yourself to drive positive change.
  4. Sharpen spoken and written communication skills through consistent practice and targeted learning strategies in your professional field.
  5. Learn the rules of engagement in business and familiarize with the managerial responsibilities your role require.
  6. Think of a time when you acted boldly and recall what resources you drew upon to remain grounded.

Taking Clear Stands

Taking clear stands in the workplace as a leader means openly expressing your convictions, values, and beliefs on critical issues relevant to the organization, its mission, and its stakeholders. It involves demonstrating leadership by providing clarity, direction, and guidance to your team members, colleagues, and stakeholders.

Potential Barriers to Taking Clear Stands:

Many Latina managers new to leadership roles may feel uncomfortable with formal power due to factors like Imposter Syndrome, societal norms, personal experiences, and cultural expectations.

In Hispanic cultures, the emphasis on maintaining harmony and preserving relationships can hinder Latinas from asserting their authority at work due to a desire to please, fear of backlash, or negative consequences.

Marianismo, found in many Hispanic cultures, emphasizes traditional gender roles and attributes virtues to women mirroring those associated with the Virgin Mary, like self-sacrifice and nurturing. While valuable in society, this can reinforce stereotypes and create barriers for women in the workplace.

It’s important to note that Latinas, like women from any background, have diverse personalities, experiences, and leadership styles. While some may align with aspects of marianismo, others may embrace more proactive and assertive approaches to leadership.

How to Take More Clear Stands:

  1. Develop clear boundaries, understanding where others end and when you begin.
  2. Identify opportunities to build clarity and consistency of roles and performance expectations.
  3. Clarify your personal and organizational values with actionable guiding principles to bring them to life daily.
  4. Use “I” statements often to let your team know where you stand around essential matters.
  5. Lead by example by speaking your mind when you see what’s right.

Taking Risks

Taking risks is an essential aspect of leadership that fuels innovation, drives growth, and enables organizations to thrive in an increasingly complex and competitive world. While risk-taking involves uncertainty and potential failure, it also offers the potential for significant rewards and transformative impact when approached thoughtfully and strategically.

Potential Barriers to Taking Risks:

Some women leaders may naturally lean towards risk aversion, prioritizing stability over change and preferring to avoid disruption. This caution can manifest in their leadership style as they prioritize maintaining the status quo and mitigating risks rather than pushing for change.

Latina leaders may encounter biases in the workplace that lead to perceptions of incompetence or unsuitability for leadership roles, resulting in heightened scrutiny and resistance.

Additionally, Latina leaders may face intersectional discrimination based on their gender, ethnicity, and other aspects of their identity, exacerbating challenges in asserting themselves and overcoming resistance. This intersectional discrimination can feel personal and may leave them unsure of how to respond effectively.

How to Take More Risks:

  1. Be willing to step out of your comfort zone to explore the unknown, knowing that facing resistance is part of a leader’s role.
  2. Embrace failure as a learning opportunity since it is a natural part of taking risks and growing as a leader.
  3. Celebrate successes and milestones as you take risks in your leadership approach.
  4. Lead by example by staying true to your values and principles as you take risks in your leadership approach.
  5. Seek constructive feedback from trusted individuals who can help you assess the potential risks and benefits of different courses of action.

Preserving the Core and Creating a Future That Matters

Preserving the core involves staying true to the organization’s fundamental values, principles, and vision.

Leaders must protect and uphold the core values and principles that define the organization’s identity and guide its decision-making. These values serve as a moral compass and provide a foundation for the organization’s culture, behaviors, and actions.

Creating a future that matters is about embracing change, innovation, and growth. Influential leaders strike the right balance between continuity and change.

Potential Barriers to Preserving the Core and Creating a Future that Matters:

Latina women in the workplace often feel a strong sense of responsibility to meet the expectations and needs of others. This can manifest as a reluctance to say “no” to requests for assistance or support, stemming from concerns about disappointing colleagues, supervisors, or clients and damaging relationships. Additionally, worries about being perceived negatively or upsetting others may lead Latina women to hesitate in assertively setting boundaries.

Women leaders, including Latina leaders, may face challenges in rocking the boat effectively within hierarchical or male-dominated organizational structures. Limited resources or authority may hinder their ability to enact meaningful change, and institutional barriers can make it difficult to challenge the status quo.

In situations where confidence is lacking, Latina leaders may benefit from support in expressing their viewpoints assertively and standing firm in their convictions, especially when facing pressure from bosses, customers, or peers. This assistance can empower Latina leaders to navigate challenging dynamics in the workplace with greater confidence and effectiveness.

How to Lead Amid Constant Change and Complexity:

  1. Clarify the core values and principles that define the organization’s identity and guide its decision-making.
  2. Use values-driven principles as a moral compass to align behaviors and actions.
  3. Maintain a clear vision and sense of purpose for the organization, articulating the long-term goals and objectives that drive its mission and strategy.
  4. Be willing to adapt to change and embrace innovation, evolution, and growth.

As a Latina leader, you possess a wealth of unique strengths, talents, and perspectives that can enrich your organization and drive meaningful change. Embracing your biculturalism and cultural identity allows you to bring a diverse and valuable perspective to the table. By recognizing and leveraging your unique strengths while also acknowledging and addressing potential barriers, you can lead with greater conviction and effectiveness. Remember that creating a future that matters while remaining true to your cultural identity and purpose is not only possible but also a worthwhile endeavor that you are well-equipped to embrace. Keep striving to learn, grow, and lead authentically, knowing that your contributions are invaluable and have the power to make a lasting impact.

Si se puede… Tú sí Puedes!!!

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