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Necessary Ingredients for Leaders to Thrive in a Latin Work Culture


It is fair to state that there isn’t a single Latin work culture. The region known as Latin America can be subdivided into the primary language spoken, political and geographic features, as well as demographics and national cultures. One key thread is the importance of family heritage and national origin (“Latino/Hispanic Culture in the U.S. InterExchange,” n.d.). Chamorro-Premuzic and Sanger (2016) examined decision-making and communication styles in several regions.

Latin American leaders tend to seek consensus and close deals once the consensus has been reached. Employees and Latin American countries preferred business conversations that were pleasant, so leaders were constantly gauging conversations and audience reaction.

Here are three ways that you can be a more effective leader. Effective leaders are those people who not only get the job done, but they have the support of the workforce. These traits and skills have been collected from a variety of resources. However, remember that today, organizations conduct business across the globe. Effective Latin American leaders understand how to adapt their preferred leadership style, which is frequently autocratic and paternalistic (Lubin, 2014) to the realities of global interaction. Furthermore, by blending global business behaviors into day-to-day life, Latin American leaders thrive whether they are working locally or globally.

1. Being Opportunistic and Charismatic

Charismatic leaders have an easier time developing the consensus required to operate an organization. When you are in a position of leadership, it is vital to your success, as well as the success of those you are leading, to be sure to take up as many opportunities as possible to better yourself, your company, and your employees. Charisma can be learned, so take advantage of positive opportunities as they come your way, especially if they will give you the ability to advance from your current position or bring about positive changes in the Latin American workplace and community. Accept meeting invitations or host a group activity; take it upon yourself to provide those around you plenty of opportunities for growth. Become a leader that others will follow.

2. Set Goals and Communicate Effectively

Goals are both a destination and a signpost. Leaders have a vision and they share that vision with their followers. Whether you set yourself smaller goals or larger goals that will take a while to work toward, when those around you see you striving to achieve your goals, they are likely to be inspired by your actions and look up to you. Communication comes in many forms: what we say aloud, what we do when we are in public and when we are by ourselves, and the people and images that we surround ourselves with. Having a goal, sharing that goal, and effectively communicating your vision will inspire your team to help you reach something that all of you believe in. This is particularly important in a Latin work culture.

3. Fostering Supportive Relationships

Latin American business models generally involve a central father figure. Whether you are “in charge” in the workplace, or if you want to bring others up and make them feel successful, practicing positive reinforcement is a great way to go about it. So, what does positive reinforcement look like in your organization? First, the reinforcement is consistent no matter who has performed the activity, which can be a challenge in an organization that is structured as a hierarchy. Second, the reinforcement needs to align with cultural values, such as courtesy and kindness at work. Finally, supportive relationships flow both ways; just as you support your team, they trust and support you. Offering positive reinforcement in the workplace is vital to those around you, as they can take the advice you offer them and become better at what they do, each and every day.

Today, a local company is often part of a larger global organization. A successful business is built on relationships. Whether you are a native Latin American leader or someone from another country who is leading a Latin American team, foster cross-departmental and organizational relationships. Consider teaching a workshop on Latin American business etiquette. Consider asking your team to help you master the nuances of being a leader with a Latin American workforce. It shows that you trust them, and you can learn together.

Change is challenging. Support your growth and the growth of your team by getting in touch with like-minded individuals. Meet up with new people. Go to conferences and attend seminars to learn how you can improve your communication skills, discover how to give your employees better opportunities to succeed, and develop networks for selling your products or services at the same time. Effective leaders are opportunistic and charismatic, set goals and communicate effectively, and foster supportive relationships.

By Barbachano Staff

About Barbachano International

Barbachano International (BIP) is the premier executive search and leadership advisory firm in the Americas (USA, Mexico, Latin America, & Canada) with a focus on diversity and multicultural target markets.  Outplacement and Executive Coaching services are provided by our sister allied company Challenger Gray & Christmas. Since 1992, BIP and its affiliates have impacted the profitability of over 50% of Fortune 500 Companies.  BIP has been recognized by Forbes as Americas’ Best Executive Search Firms and currently ranks #27 and #3 on the West Coast.  Headquartered in San Diego, California with satellite offices in Florida and Mexico.  As member-owners of NPAworldwide Recruitment Network, we are supported by partner offices in over 50 countries.


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