08/10/2011 10:53 pm ET Updated Oct 10, 2011

Time Is Running Out -- Why Hispanic Leaders Must Step Up!

Where are the Hispanic leaders? The most recent survey from the Pew Hispanic Center showed that 74% of people either do not know or do not believe there is an important Hispanic leader in the United States today. This is shocking, especially when you consider that Hispanics are -- at more than 50 million strong -- the majority-minority and fastest growing population in the United States. Where are the Hispanic leaders?

The run-up has already begun to the 2012 elections, and if Hispanics are to assert the leadership that their numbers demand, they need to find their voices quickly. Time is running out.

Nearly four years ago, the Center for Hispanic Leadership began its journey to research and to help solve this problem, and our conclusions were three-fold:

• First, Hispanics struggle with the gap between assimilation and authenticity. Most Hispanics do not truly begin to thrive and create influence until they realize that their cultural roots are sources of strength rather than barriers to advancement.

• Second, Hispanics have trouble trusting others, let alone themselves. Hispanics are cautious and skeptical. The root cause stems back to the political and economic corruption our families faced in their mother countries and the wars they fought for independence and opportunity.

• Finally, Hispanics in the United States have not fully used the natural characteristics they possess to maximize their leadership capabilities.

Advancement in leadership roles requires authenticity, trust and transparency; especially in today's economic climate. Unfortunately, most Hispanics assimilate to American culture, believing that is the best way to seek equal opportunity. As a result, their real identity gets lost and the opportunities for advancement are minimized, because they don't bring their whole selves to work and / or how they represent themselves in society.

Moreover, Hispanics have created their own barriers to advancement. For too many years, Hispanics have played the role of the victim, instead of being a resource for new types of opportunities. Instead of further fragmenting our position in society, Hispanics must find ways to unite. We must begin to embrace our unique cultural differences and use them to empower our voices and showcase the relevant characteristics that can be utilized in the new economy, defined as it is by uncertainty and continuous change.

Our opportunity window for advancement has now arrived and the values and skill sets that Hispanics naturally possess are more relevant than ever before, in the quest to renew America's leadership position in today's fiercely competitive global market. Together we must work smart to earn the right to unite and activate the voices of all multicultural groups whose leadership is ready to be unleashed to reinvent America, using the same immigrant mentality that made our country great!

What are you doing to be a better Hispanic Leader? How are you creating impact and influence to advance the Hispanic Community and multicultural groups at large? How have you activated the natural values/characteristics that make Hispanics great leaders? Take this quick online test to see how you stack up as an authentic Hispanic leader. And download my free ebook to discover the 6 natural characteristics that distinguish Hispanic immigrants. And join the conversation -- let me hear from you about your role as an Hispanic leader.