Emerging Latina leaders: How to manage your inner critic

  • Posted on April 14, 2021
  • Estimated reading time 4 minutes

From junior employees just starting their careers to those at the end of their career trajectory, most have battled with the voice of self-doubt. The inner critic comes in many forms like imposter syndrome, self-sabotage and even social anxiety lingering in the background. Defeating this voice is no easy feat. Women oftentimes rate their work more harshly than their male counterparts, and even more so when it comes to underrepresented groups. Overcoming your inner critic takes hard work, consistency, and self-awareness, but once mastered, can unlock a valuable leadership skill that can propel your career forward.

Throughout our individual career journeys, we have each learned to take ownership of our careers. We have done so by identifying areas of self-growth and taking up new challenges to realize results and propel ourselves to leadership reality. Fortunately, we have not been alone. Throughout this process, we have tapped into our very own mentors, sponsors and even our mothers who have been a sounding board along the way.

As Latinas, we have learned to break barriers, feel confident in being ourselves and celebrate who we are. To those that are currently learning to manage their inner critic, remember to use your voice and bring your unique perspective into the work you do – consider it your superpower.

Adelante, Avanade’s Latinx Employee Network, brought two rising leaders to the forefront to share their experience as Latinas in the workplace who have learned to manage the inner critic. Lourdes Spry and Clarissa Vasconez of Adelante share their perspective in an open Q&A session:

How do you manage being “the only” one in the room?

Lourdes: For me being “the only” one in the room means being the only woman in a room, it means being the only Latina in the room, and quite frankly being both at the same time, which speaks louder combined. Being the only one in the room has happened to me countless times throughout my career and continues to happen. It has made me not speak up when I have an idea or a suggestion; it’s made me not stand my ground, or think others have more knowledge or experience than me. I am still working on this ... but what I have been learning to do is to turn it into an opportunity and try to make the most out of it. Some things I have done to help me manage this better is before I head into a new environment or new audience, I give myself a little pep talk, I go for a quick walk, or I get advice from my mother, mentor or sponsor. Sometimes I just need a little reminder that through my hard work and knowledge, I've earned the right to be in that room. I try to remind myself that I am in that room for a reason, and I try to not underestimate how important my presence is when I’m the only one in the room or even when I am NOT the only one in the room.

Many women seek out training to develop their leadership presence, how did you find your or how do you improve it?

Clarissa: For me a key driver in developing my leadership presence is to continue to power up on my own confidence. I’ve understood that I must become more confident in my work and my capabilities, which has helped me build that trust within various teams. I feel very fortunate to love what I do and to bring that passion to work every day. I love knowing that we have the Adelante platform to encourage others within our Employee Network to also be self-motivated and to continue to build on the willingness to take risks when it comes to your own career. Leading by example and mentoring others is how I feel I’m making an investment in the future while investing in my own self-growth. One piece of advice I would share is what my mom would tell me growing up: “Camina con la frente en alto siempre,” which translates to “Always walk with your head held high.” She would always correct my posture, saying it displays confidence. So sit a bit taller, pull your shoulders back and make a positive impact.

How do you demonstrate that you have leadership skills to move your career forward? How did you advocate for yourself?

Lourdes: The way I have been able to demonstrate that I possess leadership skills, within Avanade specifically, is by showing on paper and building a story that I have been working at the next career level. Avanade has several templates allowing you to build your story. In addition, Avanade has leveling guidance documents showing the different career level differentiators. These tools have been very helpful for me to build a better story.

Another tool that really helped give me the push I needed to effectively advocate for myself is when I read Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In a few years ago. I remember being in the process of building this promotion business case and this book helped me immensely to be bold and ask for what I deserve.

What is one piece of actionable advice that you would like to share with others?

Clarissa: Own your career! Be proactive, lean on others and find those connections that will guide you through your career path. Seek opportunities that take you out of your own comfort zone. I’ve learned that change is good! Every time something new gets handed to me, I now see that as an opportunity for self-discovery and growth.

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