Bloomberg sounded like The Gotham Gringo.
Slick Willie (Bill Clinton) came off . . . unslick.
George Bush sounded like a goofball, yet oddly authentic.
Jeb Bush was impressive.
Wanna know who really spoke Spanish well?
When it comes to politicians speaking Spanish, history is a mixed bolsa, to say the least. With well over 52M Hispanics in Los Estados Unidos and climbing, Republicans and Democrats alike understand the need to capture awareness and gain acceptance among this demographic.
With the vast majority of politicians looking like flustered high school freshman in Spanish class, why do so many attempt this phonetic feat?
Red is the new black.
(No, this isn’t a play on Red Angle, but it’s a reasonable suspicion.)
Red is the new black: If you’re willing to blush—to turn red—in front of those who look up to you, the reach of your leadership can grow.
It’s the idea that putting yourself out there—appearing vulnerable in front of workers lower on the corporate ladder—makes the you, the leader, more accessible.
Especially in Hispanic cultures where a significant emphasis is placed on respect for authority, leaders can greatly expand their influence by communicating with workers in their language of preference.
Now, just as reciting a few teleprompter paragraphs in Spanish alone won’t win millions of votes, it won’t turn some dirtbag CEO into the Hombre of the Year either.
However, when the average CEO earns 331 times as much as the average worker in the U.S., making an effort to connect to Hispanic workers doesn’t hurt.
Red is the new black: don’t be afraid to blush in front of the workers that ultimately make you successful.
At Red Angle, my message is simple: Quit taking yourself so seriously.
Have some fun.
Understand Hispanics will be impressed if you meet them halfway across the language gap. It will increase their awareness immediately by witnessing a gringo líder doing something . . . muy diferente.
A president of a billion dollar construction firm recently completed the Red Angle Safety Spanish program. He shared with me this win:
When visiting one of our newest job sites, I walked up to a group of Spanish-speaking craftspeople whom I had never met. It was a great chance to thank them for joining us and allowing them the chance to see that the President of the company was spending time to visit with them. They were bilingual and I took the chance to tell them that I was a student of Spanish and shared my Safety Spanish learnings. They had fun with me and joked that “El Jefe” needed it for trips to Cancun! Everybody laughed and cut up and it made for a great employee “engagement victory.”
Red is the new black: Being vulnerable at times, blushing in front of your underlings—turning red—doesn’t diminish your power. Just the opposite; it makes you more relatable. More dynamic. More . . . diferente.
So study up on the performances of George, Bloomie, Big Slick, and B.O.—they are no more fluent than you are. They must be doing it for other reasons.
Red is the new black.
So . . . ándale.
Go blush yourself.
Bradley Hartmann is founder and El Presidente at Red Angle (www.redanglespanish.com), a training and consulting firm bridging the English-Spanish language gap in the construction industry.
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