By Jane Applegate
Juana Borders is the seventh daughter in a family of nine children. Her family immigrated to the United States from Mexico to pursue the American Dream. Her mother worked as a cleaning lady to pay for Juana’s tuition to attend Catholic school. A born leader, Bordas was the first in her family to attend college. A former Peace Corps volunteer, she’s devoted her career to encourage Latino-Americans, especially women, to step up and be leaders.
“I felt a responsibility to become somebody,” says Bordas, author of The Power of Latino Leadership: Culture, Inclusion and Contribution, (Berrett-Koehler). Her second book is a readable, fascinating overview of how and why Latinos lead differently than people from other cultures. “Latinos have a special kind of leadership,” she says. “They lead with gusto and passion.”
Bordas points out that being Latin American is cultural—Latinos are not a race. In fact, Latinos in America come from 26 different countries and tend to identify with their home countries, rather than as part of one homogenous group.
About one-third of the U.S. was settled by the Spanish and the Hispanic population in the U.S. is rapidly growing. In fact, the Latino population in the U.S. grew by 43 percent in the last decade. Today, one in six people in the U.S. is Hispanic. There are about 50 million Hispanics in America and by 2050 one in three Americans will be Hispanic, according to Bordas.
I asked her what makes Latino leadership different from Anglo leadership. She says historically, power has been hierarchical, with most power held tightly by white males. In contrast, Latino leadership is more diffused and accessible.
“We are a female-oriented culture and our values reflect more of the female world view,” she explains. She says the phrase “Latino Destino,” or Latin Destiny reflects an overarching goal to build a multi-cultural society.
“We are here to build a better society,” she says. “You saw what happened in the last (presidential) election,” referring to Obama’s strong support from Latino voters.
In addition to providing corporate leadership and diversity training through her company, Mestiza Leadership International, she encourages women of all cultures to “build a network of your sisters,” and urges women to think about how they want to be remembered.
The book has a great chart outlining the 10 principles of Latino leadership, which can be embraced by anyone:
- Personalismo: The character of a leader requires leaders nurture other leaders and build community. Leaders connect with people on a personal level first and always keep their word.
- Conciencia: Know yourself and be personally aware. Engage in self-reflection and listen to your intuition and ‘inner voice.’
- Destino: Personal and collective destiny. Every person has distinct life path and purpose. Know your family history and reflect on your legacy and personal vision.
- La Cultura: Latinos are a culture and ethnic group, not a race. Latinos try to be congenial and likable, exercise respect and generosity.
- De Colores: Inclusiveness and diversity. Latinos are connected to 26 countries. They embrace all ages with an intergenerational spirit.
- Juntos: Juntos means “union, being close, joining and being together.” Latinos work collaboratively and share responsibility.
- Adelante: Latinos have an immigrant spirit. They are acculturating, not assimilating. They are a prototype for global leadership.
- Si Se Puede: Means community organizing and coalition building. Latinos try to build partnerships with other groups.
- Gozar la Vida: Latinos have a celebratory, expressive and festive culture.
- Fe y Esperanza: Sustained by faith and hope. Optimism is an essential Latino quality. Being grateful allows people to be generous and give back.
Jane Applegate is the national correspondent for SmallBizDaily.com, author of four books on small business success and co-founder of the FabulousFemaleNetwork.com. The Applegate Group is a multimedia production company.