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Latino Leadership in Kansas

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The Latino population has rapidly grown over the past four decades with it now making up the second-largest racial or ethnic group in the U.S., approximately 60 million people.

Today, Latinos make up 16% of the labor market. As this trend continues, it will also lead the U.S. into a period of major workforce transformation, where it is predicted by 2025 that one out of every two new workers entering the workforce will be Latino.

It is crucial to understand how to foster inclusion and integration of Latinos, and to explore how best to utilize their diversity and value in the U.S. Understanding this will help to further accelerate economic prosperity, enhance well-being and strengthen civic capacity.

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This study investigated the influence identity plays – in this case the identity of Latinos living in Kansas – in their perceptions, emotions, attitudes and beliefs about leadership. We were interested in learning how this may affect a person’s emergence as a leader and engagement in their community. These findings can shed light on how leadership is exercised within the workplace and community.


Identity is critical and spans a spectrum

63% of participants reported that their identity is a combination of key elements of Latino and American identities (combined identity), while others identified primarily as Latino and a smaller group saw themselves primarily as American. The emotions and attributes associated with different identities influence perceptions and beliefs about leaders and the ways in which individuals engage and display leadership behavior.

Positive emotions about cultural heritage matter

A person with a positive emotional connection to their Latino heritage is more inclined to think positively about leadership and see themselves as a leader.

Leadership is about responding to others’ needs and achieving common goals

66% of participants reported perceived leadership differences between a Latino leader and a non-Latino leader. When comparing positive leadership attributes in Latino and non-Latino leaders, the attributes of dedication, sensitivity and dynamism were perceived as higher in Latino leaders.

Obligation and passion motivate Latinos to lead

Latinos who are more likely to engage in leadership and community engagement have a passion for leading others, feel obligated to lead, and show a positive attitude toward community engagement.

Graphic showing positive connection to Latino heritage is important for leadership

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