Take a peek into the McDonald’s Women Career Development program that teaches effective leadership skills to Latinas to help them move up the ladder!
It was arctic cold at the Hyatt Lodge in Oakbrook, IL, when a group of forty Latinas came together for a full day of leadership training organized for them exclusively by McDonald’s. The frigid temperature (single digits Fahrenheit!) continued outside, but inside it was all excitement and warm camaraderie.
Handpicked by their supervisors, these restaurant managers spent a day away from running multimillion-dollar businesses and identified effective leadership traits and skills that could help them continue to grow in their careers. With the help of a professional facilitator and five “Big Sisters” (senior women in the organization) they spent eight hours bonding with each other while discussing high impact topics. You could ask why would people who are already so successful need to be made aware of effective leadership traits. Shouldn’t they already have those leadership traits in order to manage multimillion-dollar restaurants?
The truth is that these powerful Latinas are extremely talented managers who have proven to be invaluable to the organization and who posses many of the typical leadership traits you’d expect in people in their positions. But the corporation believes it would benefit even more if these leaders continued to climb the corporate ladder and to do so, they need to expand their skillset. So McDonald’s is set on helping them achieve their full potential and, in the process, continue to develop the pipeline of outstanding women leaders.
Appreciating specific and effective leadership traits
Through engaging small-group discussions followed by larger group sharing, participants discovered a host of leadership traits that they had in common as women and, particularly, as Latinas. Among them:
- Ability to listen to their customers
- Family orientation that extends to the way they treat employees
- Ability to multitask and get things done
- Strength while able to show emotion
- A focus on getting their target goals accomplished
- Supportive of other women’s career advancement
- Focus on the bottom line
- Excellent communication skills— Many of them are able to speak two or more languages
- Courage —In many cases as part of their family’s immigrant history
- Strong ability to work with teams
Focusing on areas of opportunity
The setting of the day, a leadership training program exclusively created for Latinas, was a safe backdrop for a candid conversation where participants could openly admit to cultural elements often responsible for holding them back in their careers. These included:
- Too much emphasis on overcoming weaknesses rather than on becoming better at one’s strengths
- Fear of asking for feedback
- Fear of disappointing one’s family by failing
- Dealing with different family expectations of a woman’s role than participants’ own expectations for themselves (Families that expect women to be home and take care of their families, husbands who may resent their spouses for making more money than they do, etc.)
- Lack of confidence in one’s leadership abilities even when the evidence points to strong leadership traits
- Lack of strong written communication skills needed to move to next level
By admitting to these cultural characteristics (or baggage, as the group decided to call those Latino traits that may get in the way of career growth) and by learning ways to deal with these characteristics, participants felt a sense of relief and possibility. They also opened themselves to being mentored by more senior women in order to take full advantage of the opportunities available to them at their company.
The resounding success of the leadership-training day underscored how programs designed with a specific demographic in mind and delivered by a sensitive team can positively impact employees. McDonald’s made these Latinas feel valued by offering a space to share culturally relevant insights and by making them feel part of a larger network of women ready to support their career success.
[typography font=”Cantarell” size=”13″ size_format=”px” ]What is your company doing to engage Latinas in the workplace and to promote them up the ranks?[/typography]