I have had the opportunity to serve as a leadership development trainer for the undergraduate interns from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI). I have worked with many talented interns that will one day serve as leaders of our nation.
Every time I customize the training agenda, I give a historical context for the leadership challenges faced by the previous generations. I develop tools and share personal experience for simplifying the complexities of history so that value of lessons and wisdom can be shared by those who opened the doors.
Personally, I feel I am witnessing the last stages of the primeros (the firsts). You know, primero to get a new car, primero to get a job with a tie, primero to be promoted, the primero to be elected, and the primero Hispanic owned business.
I don’t have a particular timeline for the primero stage. I only have a personal generational context of what I witnessed as a young person, seeing and hearing names for the first time like Sanchez, Rodriguez and Gonzalez with titles such as professor, director, manager, Vice President, owner, and doctor.
I had a few primeros in higher education that encouraged me to go to college. They imparted their wisdom from the experiences they had access to and/or were limited to.
Today many communities are transitioning from the challenges of the primero stage to what I call the Next Generation Latinos (NGLs) stage (we have some, but not enough).
Whereas primeros just wanted access, NGLs want and believe it is possible to gain quality access and opportunities to compete in the mainstream for the best jobs, contracts, elected office and best schools.
In order to get there, NGLs’ strategy needs to leverage social, financial and political capital to ensure relationships are established with non-Latino decision makers and/or ensure one of their own NGLs becomes the decision maker. Doing so takes money. In the primero’s stage, voting and organizing experience was developed, but not enough emphasis was made on wealth creation, financial literacy and the need for competitive Latino businesses to influence policy and key decision makers.
Growing businesses have the potential to create jobs, scholarships and foundations in order to support new leaders, nonprofits, advocates and to support political leaders committed to quality access. This is where the NGL power will come from.
Education is still a tool for advancing the Hispanic agenda at the NGL stage, but it needs to emphasize the social intelligence and the value of relationships that was key at primero stage. NGL Leaders cannot expect tweets and Facebook “likes” and other social media to gain people’s trust and commitment.
Each generation has the potential to advance the next, but there is no guarantee without resources, learned lessons from the past, nor without building adaptive capacity. Primeros need to mentor NGLs and NGLs need to set their goals higher by leadership roles serving their Latino communities and the nation.
Roberto Carmona is the President and CEO of the Crimson Leadership Group (CRIMSON). CRIMSON is a management consulting firm that provides services in leadership development, project management, organizational capacity building, strategic marketing and executive search.Along with his private sector and nonprofit experiences, Roberto was appointed to develop and oversee economic development and civil rights programs for the U.S. Department of Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Labor in Washington, D.C. In recognition of his work, Roberto was awarded the National Council of La Raza Mid-career Fellowship, and attended Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, where he completed a Masters Degree in Public Administration (MPA).