Asian Women in Leadership: Research Finding #1 – Values in Life and Leadership

Have you recovered from the holidays yet? Did you go back to work? Are you still on break? I’m wishing you all a happy and healthy 2018. I’ve read many posts about setting 2018 goals and working toward chipping away at them. I haven’t been as organized as most. I’m still in the process of thinking about what I’d like to accomplish in the upcoming year. But I don’t feel as though I’ve fallen too far behind because I still have a chance to plan for the Lunar New Year (February 16th).

With that said, I’d like to go back to my post from last month. I wrote about the purpose of my research study and the research problem I was interested in pursuing. It’s a six-minute read if you’d like to take a look here.

Research Finding #1

While there were several findings from my qualitative research study of Asian immigrant women in corporate leadership, there was one consistent theme across all of the women’s life stories. It was the subject of Values in Life and Leadership. All of the women in this study discussed the importance of a value system that was deeply ingrained in them as adolescents. These values were shaped by their parents, families, teachers, or spiritual interests and contributed to how they approach their roles as leaders today.

For example, one leader described the value of knowing between right and wrong. In her case, her parents instilled values and also led by example to greater reinforce the message. As an adolescent, the woman learned to strongly embrace loyalty, respect, honor, and honesty. She also described that she often balances her Chinese cultural values with her American values to be productive at work.

When appropriate, she applies “soft skills” while interacting with her colleagues, an attribute she connects to her American upbringing. At other times, she has been known by her peers and team members as a “workaholic” because of her strong work ethic, which is derived from her Asian culture.

Growing Up Asian

When I was growing up, one value I learned from my parents was to “work hard.” As new immigrants, we had very little financial means. My parents worked two, sometimes three jobs to earn enough money to one day buy a house and start their own business. When my parents opened a souvenir shop in the heart of Market Street in San Francisco called, “Sun’s Gifts,” they worked even harder than when they had three jobs. As a kid, I’d often help them on the weekends. My responsibilities were minimal. I’d bag up some of the trinkets that tourists would buy and likely throw away shortly after their trip to San Francisco.

During this time in my life and the years following, I didn’t have very many weekends when I could just be a kid. My early sense of responsibility and work would eventually shape how I would later exist in the adult world. I’m not complaining about my upbringing. In fact, I’m grateful to my parents for instilling in me a strong sense of work ethic. I love setting long-term goals and pursuing everything that interests me. Often these pursuits can lead to mistakes, which ultimately become valuable lessons.

Goal Setting

When you think about your goals, what do they that look like for you? If you can’t answer that question now, you might want to consider defining your own values… long-held beliefs that resonate in your life. But you can’t achieve goals without changing your behaviors so think about the things you want to alter as you move into 2018.

Thank you for reading. I hope this was helpful and would love to hear from you on how your future goals are shaping up.

View from my goal planning session. (Work in progress.)

journal with coffee cup


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  3. Pingback: Posts About Asian Identity, Asian Culture, and Leadership | Yon Na, Ph.D. | ADVANCING ASIAN WOMEN AT THE WORKPLACE

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