Personal Branding Is A Leadership Requirement -- Not a Self-Promotion Campaign

IStock_000017098518SmallDeveloping your personal brand is essential for the advancement of your career and development as a leader.  Unfortunately, personal branding has become a “commoditized” term that has lost its intention as people have irresponsibly used social media as a platform to build their personal brand and increase their relevancy. They believe social media can immediately increase their market value for their personal brand rather than recognizing that the process of developing their personal brand is a much bigger responsibility; a never-ending journey that extends well beyond social media.     

This is why I always advise those who want to have a social media presence to think carefully about their intentions and objectives before opening an account.  Why?  Because the moment you start – you must not allow yourself to stop.   Challenge yourself to think about what your intentions are and what you are capable of delivering to the communities you are serving – both in and outside of the workplace.

Personal branding, much like social media, is about making a full-time commitment to the journey of defining yourself as a leader and how this will shape the manner in which you will serve others.    

Your personal brand should represent the value you are able to consistently deliver to those whom you are serving.  This doesn’t mean self-promotion – that you should be creating awareness for your brand by showcasing your achievements and success stories.  Managing your personal brand requires you to be a great role model, mentor, and / or a voice that others can depend upon.  For example, when I write a blog or an article – I am extremely mindful that my community of readers expects a specific “experience of thought” from me. 

More than that, I aim to attract new readers by offering something of value that will hopefully engage them enough to continue reading my work.  Sounds like a lot of pressure and a tremendous responsibility to your audience, doesn’t it?  Well – it is at first – but over time the responsibility becomes a natural and instinctual part of who you are.   This is the mindset you must develop and the level of accountability you must assume when deciding to define, live and manage your personal brand.   Every day you know you must deliver to a standard of expectation that you have set-forth for both yourself and those whom you serve. 

View your personal brand as a trademark; an asset that you must protect while continuously molding and shaping it.  Your personal brand is an asset that must be managed with the intention of helping others benefit from having a relationship with you and / or by being associated with your work and the industry you serve.

Have you defined your personal brand?   Are you consistently living your personal brand every day?   

If you’re like most, your answer to both is “no”.   Based on a survey conducted by my organization, less than 15% of people have truly defined their personal brand and less than 5% are living it consistently at work – each and every day.  Why?  It can be extremely challenging and it requires a tremendous amount of self-awareness, action and accountability.

What I didn’t tell you is that 70% of professionals believe they have defined their personal brand and 50% believe they are living it.   But when you “peel-back-the-onion,” you realize that their focus was centered on self-promotion rather than a commitment to advance themselves by serving others.  

So what is a personal brand?  A personal brand is the total experience of someone having a relationship with who you are and what you represent as an individual; as a leader.    Think about what that means to you. Let it simmer.     Ask yourself and then ask a close friend – what is the total experience of having a relationship with you like?    Write down the top 5 things you would expect others to experience and have your close friend do the same.   Are the answers the same or similar in meaning?  If they are, good for you!  If not, you have some work to do.

Every time you are in a meeting, at a conference, networking reception or other event, you should be mindful of what others are experiencing about you and what you want others to experience about you.    Each of these engagements is similar to a job interview – expect in these cases you are being evaluated by your peers.  Those who know how to live and manage their personal brand will earn their respect in any situation.  

At first, this is a bit of a challenge.  However, when you start to see yourself living through the “lens of a brand,” your perspective will change and you will become more mindful about how you approach the personal brand you are trying to define and aiming to live.  

Don’t confuse this with “acting a part.”   To the contrary, you should focus on being more of who you naturally are and want to be so that you can perform and serve at your optimal levels. Keep in mind that we have been conditioned to want to be more like others.  As such, we   are more likely to be accountable to others and what they want us to be rather than being true to ourselves. 

If your teammates and/or colleagues don’t know what your personal brand is, the fault is yours and not theirs. Having a personal brand is a leadership requirement.  It enables you to be a better leader, a more authentic leader that can create greater overall impact.  In fact, those who have defined and live their personal brand will more naturally demonstrate executive presence and as such may find themselves advancing more quickly at work.    

Personal branding is no longer an option; it’s a powerful leadership enabler.




Culture is Like an IceBerg

Organizational psychologists often describe culture as an iceberg.  There are a few cultural traits that we can see or feel from the surface, such as language, skin tone, body type, accent, surname, and personal mannerisms.  Yet the more substantive aspects of culture are hidden in the water at various depths just like the iceberg that sank the Titanic, and not knowing about them can harm us.  Finding ways to understand those hidden aspects of culture can save your business deal or idea, relationship, communication gone array, and most importantly it can teach you things about yourself and those you interact with. When combined with the “immigrant perspective” it can turn on a sixth sense that most people are unaware of thus inspiring creativity. 

At one point or another in our ancestry we were all immigrants, yet we are often not of the same fresh mindset of a person who recently immigrated to the United States or somewhere else.  If you cannot think of a close first-generation relative who immigrated than you need to be reminded of the “immigrant perspective”.  According to Center for Hispanic Leadership Founder, Glenn Llopis the “immigrant perspective” helps us to creatively see opportunities everywhere.  Imagine a person who immigrated to the U.S. with only a few dollars in their pocket, developing English skills, and no friends or family; this person has a healthy curiosity, zeal to learn, and optimism about his or her new culture which can be a catalyst for business innovation and cross cultural collaboration.  

No one owns culture, yours or anyone’s.  Culture is adaptive, experiential, you can learn it, and it is ok if others seem to know your own culture better than you because the real question is do you know and learn from other peoples cultures?  When you embrace the “immigrant perspective” you are forced to answer yes to this question.  You are your culture no matter what, but your culture should evolve over time with many diverse socio-economic factors that are specific to you and no amount of words can accurately describe what you are - culturally and beyond.  Yet this evolution is a type of change and change is hard for most people.  The mere fact that you are or once were an immigrant means that you are or were open to new cultures and interpersonal risk, and that is ok and healthy in-conjunction with but not mutually exclusive to the world becoming more connected via social media, 24 hour news, smart phones and tablets, and high speed fiber optic cable.  This allows more business outsourcing and global entrepreneurship, and according to a recent Forbes article, “40% Of the Largest U.S. Companies Founded by Immigrants or Their Children.”

Yet for all the technological and economic advancements provided by globalization -- many organizations and people still do not go deep enough into the waters surrounding the iceberg of culture.  Like the captain of the Titanic, they float along on the surface and hope for the best not knowing what they don’t know.  To melt the iceberg of culture you must look beneath the surface to discover the deeper meaning.  After going deeper you will find clues about collectivism vs. individualism, gender, saving face vs. being correct, laissez-faire time orientation vs. punctual time orientation, eye contact, family structure, high context or low context communication, forms of acceptable social risks, dining etiquette, when to shake hands vs. hug or kiss, and much more.  Even when observing these clues, when you are invited to a religious, community, medical, or matrimonial event you must act within and learn from the confines of the culture where you are not necessarily convert for life. 

Lastly, always embrace “your” immigrant perspective with authentic emotion as the emotion will help you feel the story behind your cultural evolution and it will give you a sense of unique pride with the vision to know you will never need to assimilate.  This world is no more anyone else’s than it is yours and there is no true beauty or innovation without true diversity.

By Jeremy Swenson

Jeremy Swenson, MBA, is an experienced marketer, marketing manager, writer, sales person, and business analyst. He has extensive product marketing experience with financial products and retail electronics products (State Farm, U.S. Bank, and Intel at Best Buy).  He additionally has experience enhancing software, and has also served on the social media committee of the MN AMA (Minnesota American Marketing Association) and is the current Marketing Chair of the Minneapolis St. Paul chapter of NSHMBA (National Society of Hispanic MBAs).

Connect with Jeremy at:
Twitter: @jer_swenson
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/jeremyswenson00001
E-mail: jer.swenson@live.com  



Unleash Your Passion to Unlock Your Leadership

PassionMy father, Frank Llopis, who was a victim of Castro’s Cuba, always told me that he never had any regrets in life. (He turned 96 years old last Friday!) He said he’d been given opportunities that allowed him to live a more complete life – a life full of joy and contentment. But he also said that if he hadn’t taken action when faced with adversity, he would have been an incomplete person.    

Think of how many opportunities we miss because we didn’t tap into our passion when faced with adversity. What about the opportunities that others missed?

As a leader, do you ever step back and ask yourself about the consequences of your passion, or lack thereof? Are you only thinking of yourself, or are you thinking

about your team, your organization and the people who depend on you?

Passion is becoming a luxury because you must take some risks to live passionately.

How many times have you been in a meeting and had someone tell you, “That’s a great idea, you should do something with that?” And then what happens?  Most of the time, nothing. A great leader’s passion is infectious, and if given the opportunity it can inspire action. Passion is only a luxury when not managed responsibly. Be mindful of how you put your passion into action. 

Without strategy, change is merely substitution, not evolution

As leaders, we all recognize that we need strategies for change. Unfortunately, most leaders just don’t trust themselves enough to define their strategy, since this makes them accountable for their own vision. I have noticed that most leaders want to be accountable more for what others want them to be than for what they seek to be themselves.  

Your passion must define your strategy for change. In fact, your passion must always fuel your intentions. Think about what excites you most.  Are you living this every day in your work as a leader? Don’t hold anything back, and like my father, you won’t end up with regrets.

Think about the people you associate yourself with. Are they supporting and fueling your passion? Do you fuel theirs? Is it a one-sided relationship? This is why most leaders feel stuck in the workplace. They give too much of themselves to people who don’t reciprocate. Passion means you care and you open your heart to take action and make a difference for those around you. If your leadership passion doesn’t impact others, your influence will be short-lived.

Once, early on in my career, a boss told me that I was too passionate.  He said, “Tone it down a bit, Glenn.” When I shared this with my father, he told me not to ever stop being my natural self. My father told me that my boss had misinterpreted my passion as being emotional, rather than strategic behavior.  My father told me that the day I stopped being passionate would be the moment I would stop caring about the business, and I would start missing out on opportunities. Without passion, he said, I wouldn’t be aware of my full potential, and I would never find mastery in anything. My father reminded me that my passion would fuel others to be just as passionate about their own work. My father’s wisdom never let me down - and six months later, my boss was unemployed.

What’s the passion that you can unleash to get you going in your business – that unlocks your leadership?  When you go to work today, I encourage you to take a moment to share your leadership passion with your team. You’ll awaken new opportunities for yourself, your organization, and its people. Allow your leadership passion to create sustainable impact and influence in your work!


Creating Cultural Relationships for Your Hispanic Business

Hispanics will control $1.2 trillion dollars of purchasing power in 2012, yet most brands are still struggling to earn the loyalty of this key group. In order to cultivate long-term business growth, your organization will need to make a serious commitment to this community. 

At a time when Hispanics in America are looking to establish their authentic voice and identity, they’ll embrace those brands that seek to create a meaningful long-term relationship, a relationship that grows organically and helps Hispanics gain influence. Brands that reach out to the Hispanic consumer with an authentic and dedicated approach will dominate their respective industries.    

Cultural Characteristics Are Crucial to Your Brand’s Success

Research conducted by the Center for Hispanic Leadership (CHL) has identified the following six inherent characteristics that not only define Hispanic leadership (download ebook) but also show organizations how to most effectively market to Hispanic consumers:

  • Immigrant Perspective: See opportunities others don’t see
  • Circular Vision: Lead and manage change
  • Latin Passion: Pioneer new possibilities
  • Entrepreneurial Spirit: Humanity fuels innovation
  • Generous Purpose: The spirit of giving to the community
  • Cultural Promise: Serve to leave a family legacy

Whatever industry you’re in, your organization must become a natural part of the growing Hispanic consumer community. Your brand must earn the relationship that you seek.

To win the trust of the Hispanic consumer, your organization must execute the following four steps:

Step 1:  Business Strategy (Define the Relationship)

To define your brand’s relationship with the Hispanic consumer, you have to embrace the cultural nuances that influence how Hispanics think about the products and brands they purchase.

Why do you believe your products or services will benefit the Hispanic consumer? Although Hispanics are open to exploring new things, your products or services must consistently answer specific needs for the security of their family, children, home, education and financial stability. Your business strategy must involve building trust organically across generations. Your brand’s relationship with Hispanic consumers must advance their community and help them to get closer to the American dream. 

Step 2:  Brand Positioning & Messaging (Build a Trust Platform)

Hispanics in America have trouble trusting others because they’ve lived with corruption, struggled for independence, and fought for opportunity in their mother countries. How will your brand earn trust from people who are naturally skeptical about those who sell to them? Why should your audience believe that your product or service will provide them long-term opportunity and advancement? How will your brand’s message lift the Hispanic community’s voice and identity?

Step 3:  Interactive (Empower Voice & Identity)

Most companies start phase I & II and never finish; they fail to connect with the Hispanic immigrant perspective. Can you provide an online experience that will encourage the Hispanic consumer to engage with your products and brands? This experience should be unique to your targeted audience. It should speak to the Hispanic community’s authentic voice, and help to build the community’s leadership pipeline.

Step 4: Technology (Expand the Relationship & Measure Outcomes):  

Hispanic consumers are the fastest-growing segment of the online and mobile world today.  Leverage technology to expand your relationship with Hispanic consumers and measure the outcomes of your investment.

Are you designing mobile applications and management systems to continuously interact with and become more knowledgeable about your Hispanic customers? Are you creating a social media platform that allows your Hispanic customers to feel safe when sharing their ideas? Do you have the tools to measure how Hispanics contribute to your business, corporate social responsibility, and talent acquisition strategies? Do you have loyalty programs that specifically target Hispanic consumers to assure that your relationship is authentic?

Why does the Hispanic community require a unique approach?

Most organizations are still ignoring one very important point about Hispanic consumers: Hispanics are not a homogenous community. However, focusing on these three points will help your organization capture brand loyalty and create viral local-market momentum:

  1. Learn the six Hispanic cultural characteristics. Your brand must speak with the community.
  2. Remember that Hispanics in America are a leaderless community. Help empower Hispanics as community and business leaders.
  3. Focus on building long-term trust. Listen carefully to what Hispanics really need.

Brands that break through the walls of doubt and connect authentically with the Hispanic consumer will enjoy profitable growth for years to come.


6 Essential Characteristics All Business Leaders Will Need in 2012

Businee-leaders The United States is undergoing great change -- and at an ever-accelerating pace – during these tough post-2008 economic times, with upheavals in the political, social, and economic spheres all at once.  The political mood is bitter, the social fabric is ripped in many places, and the economy continues to deliver bad news in terms of foreclosures, business failures, and high unemployment. 

How to survive in this tough, fast-changing terrain?  When my Cuban parents came to the United States in the wake of Castro’s revolution, the most precious possession they brought with them was their perspective.  It was that perspective – their immigrant values – that enabled them to adapt, reinvent themselves and ultimately thrive in a new country, a new culture, and a new set of challenges.  That’s what we need today.  The following represent the six (6) characteristics that define the immigrant perspective on business leadership that will be essential for business leaders to embrace in 2012:

1. Keep Your Immigrant Perspective:

Like an immigrant who comes to a new country with nothing but faith, hope and love, all employees must not have myopia where opportunities are concerned. We need to see that opportunities are everywhere, every day, and we must make the most of those that cross our path.   We need to see the opportunities that others don't see.

2. Employ Your Circular Vision:

My family – like most immigrant families – experienced crisis and change in our mother country – strengthening in us a sort of essential sixth sense, an ability to anticipate false promises and unexpected outcomes.  Because our immigrant perspective allows us to see opportunities others cannot, we have wide angle vision and are proficient at anticipating crisis and managing change before circumstances force our hand.  All leaders in 2012 will need to develop this ability to see around the corners up ahead.      

3. Unleash Your Passion:

Our ability to inject intense passion into everything we do makes us potent pioneers. We not only blaze paths few would go down, we see them through to the end.   Our passion opens new doors of possibilities that we aim to share with others.  When the terrain is difficult, only passion for the quest will see you through.

4. Live With an Entrepreneurial Spirit:

In America, you might be an entrepreneur. In Latin America and other developing countries, you must be one, just to survive. The ability to see and seize opportunities to build relationships, advance commerce, and better humanity is an inborn survival mechanism for immigrants – and must become one for all business leaders in 2012.    

5. Work With a Generous Purpose:

It is our nature to give. We are raised to consider others’ needs as much as our own. This begins with giving inside our family when we are young, and then, when we are older, we are taught that we are a part of a larger family all around us. Our propensity to give to others from our harvest ensures us a perpetual harvest.  Business leaders who adopt this abundant, glass-half-full attitude will find 2012 a year of surprising opportunities.   

6. Embrace Your Cultural Promise:

Our familial style of relating brings potentially everyone within the circle. The strongest bonds in business, across the entire value chain, occur when employees, partners and distributers alike are treated like family. The treatment is reciprocated and opportunities continue to arise. Our cultural promise is that success comes most to those who are surrounded by people who want their success to continue.  Business leaders – and their companies – that embrace this attitude, and practice this skill, will thrive in 2012.

2012 – the year of the immigrant perspective.  Because the times demand it, and all business leaders need to embrace the opportunities this perspective provides. 

Executive Presence in the Workplace: Do You Have it?

ExecutiveIn the new normal workplace, corporate social responsibility (CSR) must come alive in how employees express their generous purpose in meaningful ways that touch the business every day.   An undervalued  behavior that must represent the core of an employee's generous purpose is their ability to have executive presence; a critical success factor to support a healthier, happier and community-minded high performance workplace culture.

Executive presence is not about selling a business transaction, or showcasing your knowledge, capabilities and skill-sets.   Executive presence is one’s ability to create a moment; an experience that ignites others to want to know more about you, your personal brand and your business.  Executive presence is mastered over time.   It requires self-trust, confidence, self awareness and the ability to navigate the needs of people.   Executive presence is about being a good listener and the ability to quickly connect the patterns of conversation in order to detect ones personal interests, leadership style and business needs.  Executive presence is about earning the right from others to explore a more meaningful and purposeful business relationship.  Executive presence is not about you; it’s about others.  The one with highly effective executive presence is invited to the next meeting with the opportunity to create a more formal relationship.  Executive presence is about having impactful, long-lasting presence that inspires others to want to know more.

I have worked with many prominent corporate executives.  The most successful executives, visionaries and pioneers had the best executive presence.  They made you feel that you were an important part of their initiatives.  They allowed you to learn more about their personal life and always seemed highly engaged to learn about yours.  They took the time to ask questions and you never felt that they were trying to sell you or convince you about anything. They always made you feel important, wanted and needed.   The most effective executives always do. Executive presence is not about exercising your power and influence; but rather the ability to make others feel your powerful presence in a safe environment.  For those that desire to intimidate others with their power; their executive role and influence will be short-lived. 

As a fast track executive in my 20’s, I remember the wisdom my father shared to help me successfully navigate the dynamics of the corporate world.   He said, “if you ever want to start a conversation with a person of high authority and influence, always be prepared to ask questions that are important enough to them – that it will ignite a meaningful dialogue.    In order for people to take me seriously in the United States in the mid-60’s, as a Cuban immigrant who had an accent, I realized that to build new and / or sustain existing relationships that were meaningful and purposeful, I had to always add-value (lots of value) to the lives of others first.  I treated them like family.  When people realized that my intentions were genuine and responsible - actions ensued; opportunities became abundant for me – and the treatment was reciprocated.  I always expressed my generous purpose.    I built a reputation of being authentic, reliable and trustworthy.  These are the types of relationships highly influential people desire.   They don’t have time to waste.”  In retrospect, my father’s immigrant perspective represented the tenets of Executive Presence.

One point of caution: many people in positions of authority do not always have executive presence.  Their self-doubt, lack of confidence and preparedness may not lead towards developing a more formal relationship.  Most often, they are concerned to reveal their own personal and professional limitations and insecurities.  Just because someone has an important job title doesn’t mean they have character, and / or are well intentioned.   In the end, it’s all about people.

Take a moment to observe some of the world’s most influential leaders like as Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Donald Trump, Barrack Obama, Bill Clinton and others (see 2010 Time List).   What makes you want to know more about them (whether you like them or not) is their mysterious appeal driven by their Executive Presence.

Here are a few characteristics of executive presence:

• Your presence is felt once you walk into a room
• You inspire people; you are likeable and trustworthy
• People are very curious to know more about you
• People want to be your friend; build a relationship with you
• You are perceived as important, valued and respected
• You have an elegant way of approaching, engaging and getting to know others
• You ask timely, relevant and thought-provoking questions that ignites a dialogue
• You are social, well read and share fresh perspectives
• You always leave behind a thought-provoking message that people remember
• You relate equally well with different types of people (regardless of hierarchy or rank)
• You positively impact others and those around you immediately
• You share and create opportunities for others
• You smile, maintain eye-contact and always make people feel important and hopeful

I welcome your comments, thoughts and experiences with executive presence in the workplace.   

May this Immigrant Perspective on Business Leadership, serve you well.

How Diversity Will Drive Business Growth

DiversityGrowthDiversity management is the key to growth in today’s fiercely competitive global marketplace.  No longer can America’s corporations make excuses about their lack of cultural intelligence.  Organizations that seek global market relevancy must embrace diversity – in how they think, act and innovate.  In today’s new workplace, diversity management is a time-sensitive business imperative.

To better understand this fast-changing terrain, I reached out to three notable diversity executives -- pioneers within their respective industries – to share their insights and perspectives regarding the future of diversity and some of the new best practices that will allow diversity to play a more strategic role in cultivating sustainable business growth:

  • Dr. Rohini Anand, Chief Diversity Officer, Sodexo
  • Ron Glover, Chief Diversity Officer, IBM
  • Kathy Hannan, National Managing Partner, Diversity & Corporate Responsibility, KPMG LLP

Make it Real or Lose Your Authenticity

 Most corporate leaders pay lip service to diversity but don’t really live it.   Diversity is more than employee demographics and support for a few non-profits.  You can’t buy diversity, and organizations that continue to embrace this approach will tarnish their brand.  If you are not authentic, consumers and employees will begin to question the sincerity and leadership of your organization. 

As Rohini Anand says, “The traditional representation perspective originated from the Civil Right era.  This will never go away entirely.  However, diversity must go beyond this mentality.  At Sodexo, diversity is embedded in our brand.  The Sodexo brand is synonymous with diversity.  Though the Sodexo brand is not a known consumer brand, diversity leadership defines our brand – it’s all about talent.  Diversity is about responding to the needs of our clients in a holistic way.”

And Kathy Hannan adds, “Companies must take a long term strategic approach to engage diverse talent.  Companies must define their role in the global marketplace.  The train has left the station.  You may not be where you want to be with your diversity strategy, but you need to get started!”

Executives Are Still Short-Sighted

 I’m reminded of a pre-recession discussion I had with a consumer goods executive who said: “Diversity is another way of saying affirmative action and we are forced to support it in order to protect our brand in the trade and amongst our consumer audience.  Diversity has no real value tangible to the growth of our business.”   Unfortunately, many executives still share this opinion today.

 Rohini Anand says, “Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) companies have been particularly effective with diversity from a marketing initiative standpoint.  However, this is different from embracing diversity holistically.  Companies must think about diversity beyond addressing niche needs.  Diversity is not just about accessing multicultural markets.  Companies must look more broadly to reinvent the way we think about how business is done.  How can diversity be pulled out of this commoditized mentality?  Diversity leadership must drive innovative perspectives.  Companies have not yet figured out how to unlock the potential within markets and processes that must be enabled globally.”

Diversity is much more than just a multicultural issue.  Diversity is about embracing many different types of people, who stand for different things and represent different cultures, generations, ideas, and thinking.  As Ron Glover says, “Innovation is about looking at complex problems and bringing new views to the table.  Diversity has allowed IBM to be innovative and successful for 100 years and to work across lines of differences in 172 countries, amongst 427,000 employees.”

For example, are you paying attention to the Internet and how online communities continue to grow and represent different voices and points of view – and opinions about your company?

 Kathy Hannan notes, “Diversity has moved from a nice-to-have, to a must-have for companies as a strategic business imperative.  KPMG has a multinational client base.  We must understand their protocols, their ways of doing business.  Diversity must move from just a value, to being operational.”

Anand adds, “Diversity must drive the formation of new business models.  Leaders must think about the changing landscape.  The economy is changing, how business is being done is changing, so the question is how can diversity be utilized as a strategic enabler in today’s changing landscape.” 

And Glover says, “Diversity is a core belief of IBM in how we succeed in business. In order for IBM to successfully expand globally, we need a workforce that understands the local market.  Our clients are as diverse as our employees.  And there are now 5 generations in the workplace.  We must focus on building communities inside of IBM to embrace differences to drive innovation globally.”

 Diversity needs a Refresh

 Diversity clearly needs a refresh.  The misinterpretations of what diversity means and what it truly represents have limited its ability to have the real impact and influence it warrants in America’s corporations.     In fact, the executives who get it today will tell you how concerned they are for their business, because their people, products, and services do not connect naturally with the new faces of America.   As one executive told me, “Our business demands diversity and we are more uncomfortable with our lack of diversity preparedness than ever before.  We are in trouble if we don’t fix it!”  As a result, most companies have been forced to react not only to the changing face of America and but the mindsets of the global marketplace.    Consequently, executives have started to confront the inevitable: a new business model that fully integrates diversity as a business growth enabler.  

 Kathy Hannan says, “No homogeneous talent pool can be innovative.  Diversity is essential.  And, there are broader implications across the whole supply chain.  Diversity is about how you do business across the board.”

 The Future of Diversity

 To better understand the future of diversity management and its role as a business growth enabler, think back to when Information Technology (IT) was viewed as just a cost center.   IT was not associated with driving business growth 20 years ago, but rather as a required cost of doing business.  Just like diversity today, many people then thought IT got in the way of business.   Today, IT is considered a profit center by many and a high priority for organizations as a business growth enabler.   In fact, many CIOs (Chief Information Officers) are next in line for the CEO role.

 CDOs (Chief Diversity Officers) will experience many of the same functional role and responsibility shifts as have CIOs.  They will not only be required to assume their practitioner responsibilities, but they must also learn to play a more integral strategic role in the design of new business models.  Glover notes, “Diversity is a critical leadership success factor at IBM. Globally diverse leaders are maximizing the effectiveness of our teams.  IBM has recognized the importance of building teams across the company from different countries.    It’s not just about leadership, but capability.  Diversity is fundamentally focused on talent!  Those differences create real opportunities for those who learn to master them and a disaster for those who do not.”

Diversity management will begin to develop rapidly, out from under the traditional human resources and talent acquisition roles, to assume more dotted-line responsibilities that will touch corporate strategy, corporate social responsibility, organizational design & effectiveness, corporate marketing and even sales.  Therefore, the requirements to be an effective CDO will mean that they must include operating more holistically in a general management and operational capacity to ensure that diversity becomes an embedded mindset with common threads that touch all functional areas (internally) and the supply chain (externally).  

 Hannan notes, “Good intentions are not a substitute for accountability.  Everyone must be accountable for advancing diversity.” 

How you manage diversity in your organization from today forward will determine your long-term success or failure in the global marketplace.

We Must Stop Being Recognition Addicts in the Workplace

Self-promotionIn the world of business, we recognize those who sell well, but we respect and remember those who give well.

There’s nothing wrong with recognition.  It helps to advance a career, company, or cause. The worker must ensure that his boss sees his success. The company must ensure that its consumers see the effect of its product or service. The nonprofit must make its needs known. But smart people don’t seek recognition alone. In fact, they don’t seek it primarily.   Those that lead with the immigrant’s perspective understand that respect is more lasting than recognition.

A regional sales manager takes his team to the top ranks in revenue and keeps them there for three consecutive quarters. Several company executives recognize his success and wonder if he is a candidate for a higher position, perhaps the new vice president of North American sales. It is a position that will soon be vacant.

The sales manager also sees this opportunity.  Perhaps, he tells himself, his hard work will finally pay off.

However, the question is not whether the candidate deserves recognition. The numbers speak for themselves, and for these he will be recognized as at least worthy of consideration.  No, the question that remains – the question that will determine whether this man’s harvest will expand further – the question that will dictate whether he sustains his good fortune, is whether or not he has earned respect.

As the interview process begins, company executives will give the man an opportunity to speak for himself, but they will also speak to those he has managed and those with whom he has done business. Do they like working with the man? Do they trust the man? Do they think he will continue to succeed? Ultimately, these questions culminate in one: Do they respect the man? Any wise executive must have reservations about the man who can get people to work for him and buy from him but cannot earn their respect.

The great difference between the recognized man and the respected man is the difference of the head and heart. The recognized man appeals to the head where things are easily forgotten. The respected man captivates the heart.  And the heart does not forget.

Unfortunately, the corporate world has taught us to be recognition addicts. In a world of fierce competition, we have come to believe we are our own best allies. We believe we must rely only on ourselves. We believe we can sell ourselves better than anyone else.  But these things are a great long-term danger to one’s career.

Smart workers know that others are far better promoters of their fortune than they are.  So always make certain that your work includes others, and touches their hearts.  Always ask, “How will my work make the biggest impact?”

You should keep track of your successes.  You’ll need to be able to talk about them, and have confidence in yourself when you do.  But you never want to rely on your resume alone.  You must earn respect to sustain good fortune.  To do so, you must set out to share your harvest every day.

The Immigrant Leader vs. the Traditional Leader: The 3 Essential Differences

ImmigrantLeaderLeadership in today’s fiercely competitive global market requires a new fresh approach, attitude and mindset.  The following represents the three (3) primary differences between traditional leaders and immigrant leaders.  Immigrant leaders are the ones to emulate if you are to create and sustain positive momentum in your work.

Difference #1: The traditional leader looks to increase income; an immigrant leader looks to increase influence.

The world of business is full of wealthy people who are fixated only on keeping their money. These people will always have their ups and downs. No matter how much money they have, they will not be able to avoid great misfortunes. Some of the world’s greatest moneymakers have filed for bankruptcy. Some have filed more than once.  These people will eventually fail to sustain their momentum because they look primarily to increase income rather than influence.

The wealthy person without influence will always be at risk of betrayal, because people are only loyal to his money.  If you want to avoid misfortune, you must increase your influence. 

Influence is the greatest single force in the business world when properly obtained.  True influence is earned only through the respect of others. To build your foundation of good fortune on anything but genuine influence is to build your foundation on sand.

The mortgage industry has collapsed, and many have faced great misfortune. Which ones have escaped the blow? The few who maintained genuine influence among those they work with and serve.  The immigrant leader who looks primarily to earn and sustain influence with the source of all income: people.

Difference #2: The traditional leader leans on expanding creativity; an immigrant leader leans on expanding community.

The traditional leader invests in the next business opportunity.  He must constantly differentiate himself from others. He must always find a way to create space in which he can be recognized. He is thus always in competition, and even at the top of his game he will not win every time.

The immigrant leader takes a different approach and instead invests the abundance of his wealth in expanding his community. His strategy for success is to increase support around him. In doing so, he leans on the security that comes from many people wanting him to succeed.

The immigrant leader’s success will be their success. This leader need only listen to the needs of his growing community in order to know how to navigate his next opportunity.  The strongest brands in the world, such as IKEA, are experts in this skill, and it is the reason they are so difficult to supplant. Many desire their good fortune to continue, and thus the only way to topple them is to somehow take away the respect of the community.

The employee with the greater measure of respect and support within the company will most often get the promotion, the raise, and in general, the better opportunities. Thus the employee who sustains a momentum of good fortune that propels him up the corporate ladder is most often the one who leans on a strategy of expanding his community.

Difference #3: The traditional leader desires to make a mark; an immigrant leader desires to leave a legacy.

The traditional leader’s work makes only a temporary mark that will eventually wear off.  The immigrant leader takes a different approach and thus has a much different effect. He seeks, ultimately, to leave a legacy that will bring continued good fortune to many lives after he or his company is gone. He employs a strategy to collaborate with a select few who will not only benefit from his good fortune but also be prepared to continue cultivating a perpetual harvest in the months and years after he has gone.

This legacy of good fortune is first passed to a small number of supporters in order that they themselves will begin producing a similar harvest of good fortune. The immigrant leader understands that it is not his name that must reverberate after he is gone but rather the good fortune his name has earned.

In the end, there is only individual effort, but no individual purpose.

If you want to create and sustain a legacy of good fortune, you must ultimately create a community in the business of bettering the world. This is the legacy of an immigrant leader.


Hidden Agendas Disrupt Business Growth and Leadership

Hidden Agendas Disrupt Business Growth and LeadershipLast week I was the keynote at a Leadership forum.   The first question I asked the audience of 300+ people was, when you drove here this morning, what was your primary objective for attending the forum?  There was silence until someone finally said, “to meet new people.”   I asked why and this person responded, “to learn new things.”   I asked why once again and this person said, “to sell my services.”  I again asked why one final time and he said, “to make money.”   So your primary objective was to make money at this forum? I asked.   He said “yes” and then someone from the audience shouted out, “good luck selling now that everyone knows you want their pocket book!”  Everyone laughed; it was an effective icebreaker.  But the real moral of the story is that your objectives define you and your identity.  In this case, the forum participant revealed his intentions; and his identity didn’t necessarily sit well with the rest of the audience. 

We all know that you must understand your audience and their needs before defining your objectives – but have you ever thought that you must understand yourself first?     Your objectives must support your true intentions and the type of leader that you want others to experience.   What are your objectives?

Let’s ask that question about a few organizations in the news recently.  Think about the Occupy Movement for a moment.  In simple terms, this is an assault on the objectives that Wall Street leaders had been implementing for years.  How about the GOP Presidential Race?  Their objectives are so unclear that they would rather create chaos among themselves instead of supporting a plan that all Americans could understand well enough to discuss with one another.  What about Obamacare and the administration that passed the law?   Is this about political prowess or offering better healthcare to Americans?

As we all experience this uncertain economic terrain, think about your objectives and what you want to accomplish each day.  Are your intentions self-centered?  Do you share them with your colleagues?   Do they impact the healthier whole or just your own hidden agenda?

What about the objectives your boss has every day when she walks into the office?    Is she transparent enough to share them?  Are you part of her real agenda?   What are the measureable outcomes?

This reminds me of when I was hired to coach a level senior executive.  My task was to help him with a leadership approach that was abrasive.  We were going to try to shift it one that was more cordial and communal with his colleagues.    His productivity was declining as his level of engagement with his peers and subordinates was waning.  After just a few days, it became clear to me that this individual intentionally created a communication barrier that not only made him less approachable, but gradually less likeable.   In the end, this individual had decided that his objective was to create silos by exercising his power rather than forming a greater community amongst his colleagues.   Instead of being a leader and lifter, he decided to become a loafer and a leech based upon how he used his power to manipulate others.   After digging deeper into the issue, we discovered that this individual was threatened by the new younger, more vibrant generation of talent all around him.  He felt that by creating distance his power would strengthen and a greater dependency on his role in the organization would emerge.   He hoped that this would than salvage his job, his salary and all the benefits associated with his position. 

Of course, he was wrong.  The effect of his siege mentality was to alienate others rather than empower himself. 

The more I speak with Fortune 500 leaders, the more concerned I become about the future of American enterprise.  It’s as if our leaders were trained to work without revealing their true intention.   As a result, too many workers are executing the objectives of their organization without understanding the ultimate goals and desired outcomes behind them.  The workplace is blinded by distrust and dishonesty.   Most people just don’t feel safe, and are fearful of doing something wrong, unaware that they may be fueling someone else’s hidden agenda.

Step back and look around your organization.  Are the objectives of the organization in alignment with the intentions of its leaders?  Or, is your company being led by hidden agendas that must be revealed in order for the organization to grow and prosper?

America’s corporations don’t have time or the money to finance ineffective leadership.    Don’t allow tenured leaders to run on auto-pilot.   Challenge their objectives.   Ask questions.  If not, opportunities remain unseen if corporations continue to operate blindly.    It’s time for leaders shape up or get shipped out.  The workplace today can’t afford for anyone not to be completely focused, productive and steady at all times. 

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