I once watched two colleagues debate who should be the one to make a key presentation. One of them had already been told by their boss that he would do it better but that it was up to them to decide. The one with the vote of confidence went ahead and convinced his colleague to take the opportunity to shine. That’s the kind of co-worker you want to be around. Throughout your career you will meet individuals who say they want to help you and hopefully most of those will be sincere. They will show up and introduce you to key people in your industry, provide you helpful information, or they will to give you a chance to work on a project or give a presentation that gives you visibility. In order to reach key leadership roles, Latinas must be able to find those willing to invest in our personal success and those committed to increase the number of Latinas in senior leadership roles.
But trusting someone can be tough especially in a workplace where people are competing for key positions. Add to this some office politics and you’ve got a major challenge to identify your true allies.
At the end of the day, an ally has integrity. They say what they mean and mean what they say. They are consistent in their actions. They lift you up to empower you to let your strengths shine. They praise your successes and give you feedback to help you get even better. Someone who is your ally, also listens to your ideas and has the guts to say how likely those will be accepted or successful. They are not there to just agree with you. They don’t waste your time with endless debates and they don’t let you get mired in over analyzing every situation. Allies are great at supporting constructive and positive action that fulfills your goals.
The other important factor here is to realize an ally can come in all shapes, sizes and colors. I would not be in the position I am today had it not been for the grace and kindness of white, Jewish professors who were completely different from any person in my family. They helped me navigate my academic journey. I was often the only Latina in many of my classes and I had only a couple of Latino professor in all of my studies. Today, there are still so few Latinas in leadership roles—just 3% of all senior executives in the country—that it is very likely your allies will not be Latinas. Some of the best advice I got along my career also came from staff assistants, with no power to promote me but who could see things I didn’t notice. Look for authentic wisdom and support where it may be found.
What are the signs of folks with less than the best of intentions? Some may tell you they want to help you but their effort is actually more of a distraction, they take up your time, or use your work to get attention for themselves. At the end of the day they just don’t deliver on promises made. Others may want to help and simply don’t have the skills. For others it may be about the ability to find enough time to be helpful. It’s important to protect yourself from this kind of drain on your time, energy and focus. Find a way to move on and avoid these individuals. Nothing short of your career and livelihood is at risk otherwise. Tell me about your best allies at Latina Cubicle Confidential or join me live at the next LatinaVIDA™