We can’t become what we don’t believe we could become...

I recently gave a talk about the “global mindset.” Essentially, mindsets are sets of knowledge, assumptions and attitudes that enable an individual to perform adequately in a particular context. International managers have to develop a “global mindset” to excel at their work. Knowledge such as cultural customs, being able to speak a second language (or more!), abilities such as being persistent to get to the bottom of a misunderstanding while communicating with people from other cultures are part of what we call a “global mindset.”

Traveling through Germany last May made me think about how some enchanting palaces that are now museums started out as simpler shelters for the rulers of the area. At some point in history, the owner –often a descendent of the original builders but sometimes an invader or its representative—decided to add a branch, and a few years later another individual added another one, until the building at some point is turned into a museum. Nowadays, these buildings are full of stories, legends, objects from the past that attract visitors from all over the world, creating an industry that brings jobs and creates wealth in a way that few other places are able to.

Vineyards and Old Homes along the Rhine River

Admiring the beauty of these almost millenary places made me wonder… what type of a mindset did these individuals have in order to create a mansion out of a house, a castle out of a mansion, or a museum out of a castle? Would I have been one of them if I had lived their circumstances? Do I have a “creator’s mindset”? I earned an MBA and have been an administrator for some years, so, how about a “manager’s mindset”?

Some of my fellow researchers have written about how entrepreneurial work might need a different skill set –a mindset?—from the one required to be a manager. The efforts of many hundreds of individuals –including dozens of managers—are needed to maintain, let alone improve or revamp, any organization like a museum or a company. Usually, a few individuals are acknowledged for creating or turning around any project that lasts a decade or more, but there is a need to give credit to those women and men whose daily work ensures that the project keeps on providing value as time goes by. MBAs and other training programs give students the skill sets to sustain, rather than revolutionize the organizations they work for; the latter mindsets are harder to identify and even harder to nurture, but Leadership or Strategy courses include topics such as Creativity or Innovation that are designed for this purpose.

At NSHMBA, we owe it to our founders like Henry Hernandez, Maggie Peña, or Victor Arias (apologies for not mentioning many more influential individuals but these are some of the names whose contributions are now salient in my mind) that they had the creativity and perseverance to envision and launch an organization that promotes business education among Hispanics to improve our increasingly diverse society. Also, our CEOs, chapter presidents, officers and any participating member, past and present, have also been able to offer contributions, with the support and dedication of every staff and volunteer member of the organization in each and every chapter. It is this mix of entrepreneurial and managerial skills; of creativity and dedication mindsets that make our organization one we can be proud of.

In a variety of contexts, it seems human nature that we are often tempted to see ourselves as creators or innovators to the detriment of assuming a more necessary role of managers or “stewards.” Just like in professional sports, many organizations have thousands of “Sunday night coaches” who are able to identify –with the help of instant repetition and “20/20 hindsight”—every error that the team committed. We might want to call this the “Sunday night coach mindset.”

If you are still reading this, I encourage you, like I tell my students, not to bring such a mindset to your work. This “Sunday night coach mindset” might be very helpful to strike interesting conversations, but within companies or non-profit organizations, an excessively critical, non-constructive attitude may lead to a lower commitment that eventually translates into an impoverished organization.

I am not suggesting that you should not be a thoughtful critic. In fact, such a mindset might be a precursor of the “entrepreneurial” or the “creator” mindset. To the extent that we are able to identify organizational weaknesses or environmental threats, we might be able to see opportunities that revolutionize our organizations and bring them to a new level. And that proactive mindset is precisely one of the abilities that we, as trained managers who make a difference should more eagerly strive for!

I hope these lines encourage you to monitor on yourself the extent to which you have acquired not just a “manager mindset” but also a “creator” or an “innovator mindset.” Even if we cannot expect that every fellow NSHMBA member will found a similar organization, I believe we can and should expect of ourselves a professional, proactive mindset that will eventually find a way to leave a legacy in our families, our workplace, and in our communities. I will set my mind to that!

¡Hasta la próxima!