What is Empowerment?
“The process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one's life and claiming one's rights.” It means that all of us can be empowered; the question is how we become that better person that we want to be? To understand this process better I want to share with you the learning and insights I got from attending the LatinXNA Empowerment Forum where leaders were able to tell their unique story of how they become who they are today, focusing on diverse topics of empowerment on career, workplace, and culture.
Hector Gonzalez, HR Operations Vice President at Tyson, shared the need to see our differences as strengths and urged us to share our diverse experiences to add value to an organization. We must be thirsty for knowing the business and that we all have the right to compete and be successful. This last point is particularly important; so many of us leaders have stopped competing because we believe we have no chance. We need to keep moving forward, being curious, and building social capital.
Al Dominguez, Customer Vice President at Kimberly Clark, shared the importance of the frequency and speed of change that we as professionals have to have in mind. What skills we need to develop in order to be more effective based on how the environment is changing. Finding work that fulfills our own definition of success. Understanding why we want to do things, what we want to accomplish and how. Putting your heart in everything you do. We have to have a natural curiosity to learn new things. One of my favorites insights was when he mentioned Leadership Matters. A remarkably simple phrase but quite a strong statement. It is important to work for leaders who inspire us, who have diversity of thought and who share our values because it will help shape us into the leaders we want to be.
Jeannette Balleza Collins, Director of Entrepreneurial Development at NWA Council, talked about how Latin talent needs to prepare and position for Board members opportunities. It is important that leaders interested in giving back to the community do a self-reflection of themselves and understand what they value and determine the impact they want to make. Preparation and an entrepreneurship mindset are key in this initiative and for that, the NWA Council offers different resources that can help individuals find their passion and discover ways they can connect in the community. Key point: make yourself available to serve in an organization that you feel passionate and personally connected to. One key statement: “People invest in lines not dots” meaning that a relationship is a reciprocal two-way direction or line you create between yourself and your mentors, sponsors, teachers, coaches.
Elevating your Voice & Brand through Story Telling
Wendy Guerrero, President at Bentonville Film Festival, acknowledged the importance of storytelling and embracing your story. When we hear a good story, we are drawn into it, we connect with it, and it helps us make sense of our own experience, especially if we are reflected in the story. The risk of not seeing ourselves reflected in stories, is that it creates a sense of invisibility and confusion into where we fit. That is why it is particularly important to elevate our voices and our personal brand and share our stories. It is when those diverse stories take life that paradigms and perceptions are broken and changed. Embrace your own story, share it, and start creating connections.
It is in us to empower ourselves, let us start today and work each day to become the person/leader that we want to be. Make that commitment, invest in you, develop yourself and during your journey, make sure you bring people around who can hold you when you are leaning back, who can guide you when the future is uncertain and who can learn from you and who can grow with you.