What defines a leader? The answer can vary widely, depending on who you ask.
Historically, the phrase “executive presence” has been cloaked in bias, geared toward a certain racial and gender demographic. But, as we’ve seen in the past decade, the traits that truly distinguish a leader have become as diverse as the faces now occupying corporate corner offices.
Aspiring Latina leaders would do well to focus on those traits and foster leadership qualities in themselves—particularly in today’s post-pandemic business landscape, which requires leaders to be more resilient, agile, and strategic than ever before. To help those leaders focus their efforts, I developed a list of the eight most empowering leadership habits, habits that—if implemented—will uniquely position Latina leaders to stand in their authenticity and thrive in alignment with their visions for their careers and lives.
Habit #1: Develop an Invincible Mindset
The thoughts and beliefs we carry with us every day shape the feelings and actions we take (or don’t take). By cultivating a winning (and resilient) mindset, Latina leaders will be ready to tackle obstacles and challenges that come their way.
The next generation of leaders must look for possibilities and opportunities, even in the face of failure or adversity. This is what will continually set exceptional leaders apart and enable them to remain inspired and focused, even when things don’t work out as planned.
Habit #2: Make an Intentional Career Plan
Successful leaders always have a guiding North Star. They’re clear and confident on what they want in their lives and careers as well as why it is important to them. Having this strong sense of direction ensures that they can make decisions that are strategic and always in alignment with their long-term vision.
Habit #3: Nurture a Personal Brand
How a leader shows up in the office and within their team contributes to others’ perception of them and, as a result, the reputation they create for themselves. Highly effective leaders understand this principle and ensure that the words they speak, the actions they take, and the results they produce are all in alignment with the persona or personal brand they want to create for themselves.
Habit #4: Claim Achievements Out Loud
All too often, as Latinas, we shy away from sharing our achievements. We do this to make others feel comfortable and to not make it seem like we’re bragging.
However, the truth is, as a leader, you’ve earned the right to celebrate your achievements. It’s important for Latina leaders to fully embrace the significance of their contributions and claim them unapologetically. Plus, highlighting your core competencies and capabilities will help ensure that your mentors and supervisors have seen and recognized everything you’ve accomplished, which is particularly important for promotional opportunities.
Habit #5: Build a Well-Connected Network
Relationships in the business world are the most important form of currency leaders can accumulate. A well-connected network has immense value, and it’s important for the next generation of Latina leaders to invest time, energy, and effort in nurturing their relationships. It is by increasing these corporate connections and bringing value to them that Latinas will be able to gain influence and drive impact within their corporations and industries.
Habit #6: Maximize and Prioritize Time
As leaders, the way we use and schedule our time can determine our level of success: effective leaders are masters of mentoring and delegating so the entire team can elevate their outcomes.
The new generation of Latina leaders must make it a priority to plan their time in a way that produces the results they want. But remember, scheduling your time well doesn’t just mean finding time to apply and leverage your skills. It also means finding ways to use your energy to inspire and empower your teams.
Habit #7: Plan with a Highly Strategic Approach
Planning, especially for executive leaders, is essential. But planning means only so much unless it is done with a specific strategy in mind.
When leaders set goals, they need to be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-based. Having those goals in place will give Latina leaders a powerful leadership blueprint to follow and will help them work toward the right tasks and projects (the tasks and projects that will propel them in the direction they want to move).
Habit #8: Be Courageous in Asking
Negotiating is a skill that many female leaders shy away from perfecting. In fact, according to the University of California, over 20 percent of women say they are uncomfortable negotiating at work.
It is critical for Latina leaders—both now and in the future—to understand their value and be strategic in the things they ask for. Whether it’s a raise, more responsibility, better resources, mentorship, or a promotion, Latina leaders must be ready to ask for what they desire and be willing to stand firm with their ask.
As Latinas we bring a host of value, determination, and ideas to the organizations we work within. Although it can take time to nurture leadership skills and abilities, embracing and practicing even just one of these habits can help Latina leaders thrive in their authenticity and achieve their goals.
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The original version of this article appeared in Hispanic Executive.