Series Building Executive Presence for Latin Career Women

Last week I introduced the concept of Executive Presence and the 7 C’s described in an article posted in Business Insider, starting with Conciseness. Today I present a second element, which is Clarity, as the quality to be intelligible, coherent, and well-defined.

Executive Presence has become as a desirable trait for leaders as a driver for career advancement. Unfortunately, the standards that impact promotability and executive presence, are usually based on male norms. There is not a surprise that Latin professionals are disproportionately underrepresented in more highly compensated professional and leadership roles across corporate America.

The Network of Executive Women conducted a study interviewing 36 senior and mid-level Latin women executives. “Most said they didn’t easily fit into the typical corporate culture of the United States and that they had succeeded despite the barriers for career advancement”. I want to shed a light on how companies can better identify those barriers and open ways for Latin women leaders to advance. I also want to invite Latin Women to take ownership of their personal and professional development by increasing their level of clarity.

53% of Latinas say that executive presence at their company conforms to traditionally white, male standards. 

According to Nikki Barua and Monica Marquez (*), hosts from Beyond Barriers Podcast, “The ‘first step in accelerating your career is to gain clarity. Clarity is the key to success and the source of courage and confidence”. I will add that when a female leader is clear about what she wants, she will exude the qualities of courage and confidence.

“A female leader that demonstrates clarity of thought and action, projects Executive Presence”

I offer five steps to gain more clarity in your life and career:

1) Define who you are and what matters to you, this includes your personal identity and your cultural heritage. 
  • What is your personal story, and what are the key elements of your personal identity? For example, I proudly speak about my nationality and why I came to America.
  • What are your top 3-5 values? For Latin cultures, FAMILY Is a top priority.
  • What are your passions? How do you express them?
  • What is the legacy that you want to leave behind?

“By gaining clarity on what inspires and elevates you, you will be able to channel your energy and effort in the right direction” (*)

2) Create a vision for a high-spectrum life that will incorporate your aspirations 
  • What would you love to experience in the different areas of your life in 5 years? In 10 years? Imagine all possibilities.
  • Do a life inventory to assess your level of satisfaction with all areas. Consider your health & wellbeing; relationships; career; and time and financial freedom. The Wheel of Life is an easy, yet powerful way to assess where you are.
  • Identify those areas where you are satisfied and those where you want to advance, including your career goals.

“Our lives are dynamic and our goals and priorities change at various life stages. Take the time to take inventory of where you are and where you’re heading. Clarity is Power.”

3) Create a personal and professional brand that includes your strengths and those attributes that make you unique.
Be authentic. For example, I know that I speak with an accent and I have embraced the way I speak as a valuable trait because I speak two languages!
  • Write about how you want to be perceived and the image you want to project based on your goals. What you want others to say about you when you’re not in the room?
  • Consider your cultural attributes as part of your brand. You don’t have to squelch them. Instead, find ways to best leverage them so they become strengths.
  • What solutions do you provide? To stand out, you must have the expertise or solution to a problem.
  • What is your reputation? In other words, how are others perceiving you? What are they really saying about you? Collect feedback and identify the gaps.
  • Do you have blind spots that block your progress? Clarity on your areas of improvement will help you identify the steps to take to improve.

“Clarity on your unique skills and competencies helps you differentiate yourself from others”

4) Take ownership of your career by creating a development plan.
  • Recognize what your market values the most and be willing to invest time in your personal and professional development.
  • Select 2 or 3 skills or competencies that are critical for you and seek help. Connect with a mentor, a coach, or a peer that you admire and look for ways to get ideas and perspectives on how you can advance.
  • Take on new challenges and experiences that will help you gain more traction in line with your goals and what you want to be known for (Barua & Marquez). Be willing to get out of your comfort zone by taking risks and stretch to areas outside of your previous experiences.

“Clarity is not a one-time exercise, but a continuous endeavor. Keep assessing whether you are and keep taking actions aligned with your plotted direction”. (*)

If you are a Latin career woman aspiring to grow in your professional field, you need clarity. There is no doubt that there are structural and mental barriers that make it more difficult for Latin Women to reach top positions in corporate America. This doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to reach out to your goals.

Take ownership of your life and career by making an inventory of who you are, what you have to offer, and what makes you unique, including your cultural background and values. Plot your path and take the actions that are aligned with your aspirations, talents, and differentiators. While you are the only one who can do this, you don’t have to do it alone. Seek the assistance of professionals who are experts in their fields and know what questions to ask to help you get crystal clear about your path. Clarity increases your personal power, intentionality, and purpose. Clarity is a key element of Executive Presence.

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