Leadership – A Universal Language?
As we continue our series on the importance of multi-cultural leadership, we chose to speak to several KPOST Company Latino leaders. These people are some of the first to complete leadership training and implement those teachings both in their professional and personal lives.
“We recognize how important it is to invest in our people; doing so through multi-cultural education has resulted in positive dividends for KPOST. Our leadership team is stronger and our ability to create a more positive work environment has created higher operational efficiencies,” said Brent McFarlin, KPOST Company Vice President. “The results are nothing short of amazing!”
Read on and see for yourself!
Enrique Rodríguez – KPOST Company Project Coordinator
“Through this series, I really had my eyes opened to the possibilities of what I can do. Now I have a different perspective on what it is to be a great leader,” said Enrique. So what does it mean to be a great leader?
For Enrique, it means to invest time in developing others. He knows that being a great leader means being a great follower, and investing time to develop himself and others. It takes commitment and discipline to become a good leader, to take time to grow and to spend time helping others reach their goals.
“In our culture, we work hard and are protective of what we have accomplished. That creates an environment that does not allow for teaching others to become better,” said Enrique. “Now I am secure in the fact that I can lead others, teaching them to be better than me, and still keep everything I have, or even gain more, from guiding others to reach their full potential.”
Enrique chose to truly walk in his new found lessons of leadership. He implemented many of the same teachings at home, where he now has a slightly different attitude on being a role model for his family.
“We spend more time discussing books and reading. Plus we are very focused on how we spend our time together,” he said. “We eat healthier and work toward being our best selves all the time, not just at work.”
Part of Enrique’s transformation is he now knows that anything is possible. He believes he is part of the solution, rather than just a piece in the overall puzzle. Now he really pushes himself to move beyond his comfort zone so he can continue his growth while helping others realize their potential.
“We were asked to pick our three gifts. Honestly, I never really gave it much thought before, but realized how important it is to understand,” he stated. “My gifts are communication, bilingual particularly, empathy and problem solving. Now I keep these top of mind so I can serve others more readily.”
Enrique has noticed an immediate change throughout his team:
“Everyone has noticed the new approach I’ve taken, particularly since I make it a point to have one-on-one conversations so we can discuss how everyone can improve. I show everyone the same respect and they are striving to become better.” He went on to say “This type of behavior and focus is unusual for our industry. At KPOST, we believe in investing in our people.”
Rosa Garcia – KPOST Company Operations Administration
“I recognize that we all have a lot to learn from each other. When people from Latin countries immigrate to the U.S., we want to maintain our culture while still learning about the culture in the U.S.,” said Rosa Garcia. “One thing I did learn from the courses was that it does not matter who you are, if you become a leader you should stay focused on treating everyone the same. You should work to be humble.”
Rosa recognizes the difficulties of having to lead by example, both at work and at home, but fully understands the need to walk the talk.
“I don’t think that everyone is cut out to be a leader,” she stated. “Leadership is for those people who really want to grow with others and learn about other people’s goals.”
Rosa knows that being a leader starts at home, and she is leading her son to become a better parent by teaching him to earn respect from his children. Raised by a single parent, Rosa has 5 siblings and watched her mother act as the leader of her family.
“My mom was my everything – role model, leader, and parent. She taught me to lead by example and now I ensure my children understand the same.”
Rosa realizes that leadership is not just something you do at work, but a way of life, a way of thinking that encompasses everything you do. That became even more apparent when the team was discussing role models, such as Mother Teresa.
“I did not really know that much about her life and how she dedicated herself 100% to others. That had a real impact on me. You do not see people who are willing to dedicate everything they have to helping others like Mother Teresa.”
Rosa has always worked to be the type of person who thinks of others before herself. She thinks about how she can be a better person every day.
“It’s in my DNA to be humble, but honestly I never thought about the positive impact that might have on others,” said Rosa. “I now realize the result that can have on those around me, and am appreciative to be part of the team chosen to participate in the training.”
Luciano Perez – KPOST Company Safety Manager
“After the training, I am much better equipped to understand the role of a leader, how to navigate the Anglo culture, and how important it is to have good communication skills,” said Luciano Perez. “It was a good experience and really made us feel like a more integral part of the company.”
Luciano has to interact with varying types of people in his role, including team members, customers and executives. By having a better understanding of the differences between the Latino and Anglo cultures, Luciano feels better prepared to handle his duties at KPOST.
Luciano also understands the significance of this type of cultural integration, particularly from a leadership standpoint.
“The Latino community is growing and makes up a large segment of the construction industry, particularly in the worker section,” said Luciano. “This program really helped us understand the perspective of the owners and C-Suite leadership team, enabling us to perpetuate a positive corporate message. This certainly helps the Latino employees feel more a part of the organization.”
Luciano had several key takeaways that he feels are areas for growth and opportunity; namely, negotiation and persuasion skills and communication.
“For me, it’s very important to learn how to communicate up and down and ranks. Additionally, learning better persuasion skills enables me to create a win-win scenario more frequently,” he stated.
Luciano also uses his new-found skills outside of the office, particularly the interpretation of body language.
“It gave me a new perspective – a bigger picture to work with. Now I can better interpret body language and learn how to read other people. This helps me to understand the right time to approach someone rather than having to guess.”
The biggest “a-ha” moment for Luciano was learning how to change his mentality to be one of service to others. He has learned that it is important to build a level of respect by choosing differently.
“Leaders live in a glass house. Everything you say, how you dress, how you approach a situation makes a difference. Using slang terms and dressing down no longer work,” Luciano said. “Now I make a point to talk to others about what their potential is and what they can do to move forward. It’s about building others.”
Luciano is taking a financial class and is excited to be learning and continuing to grow. He knows it is important to lead from a place of integrity and that this is a journey.
“We know that other roofing contractors are not providing this type of growth opportunity for their people. KPOST is pioneering this program to develop stronger Latino leaders, making them more valuable to the company overall,” said Luciano. “The more we learn, the more we can commit to quality and leadership.”