Tips for Aspiring Leaders

Stay on target. Even though it seems certain people have the natural qualities and abilities that tend to be in favor for them in terms of being leaders, the ingredient of being a leader is no real mystery. There is no mysticism around it. Even those who seem to have it together as leader practice their sills, mindset, and experiences in ways that keep them on target. The good news is: there is always time to start bettering your leadership tendencies and skills.

Angel Rodriguez Frito Lay Kelloggs USPI HR VP

Influence is a big one in our society, and in order to cultivate that personal influence over groups of people, or even individuals in your group of friends, there are certain milestones to accomplish in terms of your social development.

According to Andrew J. DuBrin, these identified characteristics can be found in his book Leadership: Research Findings, Practice, and Skills. Such follows:

  • Self confidence.
  • Humility.
  • Trustworthiness.
  • Core Self-Evaluations.
  • Extraversion.
  • Authenticity.
  • Enthusiasm, Optimism, and Warmth,
  • Assertiveness.
  • Passion.
  • Flexibility and adaptability.
  • Emotional intelligence.
  • Internal Locus of control.
  • Courage.

A heightened awareness of what it takes to be leader can bring you closer to being a good leader. Building habits that lead to increased effectiveness as a leader day by day is the key to growing your leadership qualities.

The Skills Leaders Need at Every Level


Recently, a competency model for leadership development was analyzed by a team of researchers at Harvard Business Review. The model was based on the idea that different points in potential leaders’ development, they needed to focus on excelling at various skills. For example, the model proposed that a lower-level manager should focus on driving results while top executives needed to focus more on developing a strategic perspective.

This makes sense on an intuitive level, based on the assumption that one people develop a skill, the will continue to exercise it Interestingly, we don not apply this in athletics as athletes continue to practice and develop the fact same skills throughout their careers. It can be observed that the excellent executives we have met are all very focused delivering results, as lower-level managers are absolutely clear about strategy and vision. This brings up the question: Are some skills more important than others of leaders at certain levels of an organization? O is there a set of skills that serve to be fundamental to every level of management?

In a recent study don’t by Harvard Business School, what was found was that the skills people reported needing depended not only on their current level within the organization but also on the job they held and their particular circumstances. There was a remarkable consistency int he data regarding which skill were perceive as most important on all for levels of the organization that was measured. The same competencies and skills were selected as most important for the supervisors, middle-tier managers, and senior managers alike, while six out of the seven topped the list for top executives. Executives at every organizational level need a balance of competencies. the other nine competencies included in the study were chosen half as frequently as the top seven.

Angel Rodriguez HR VP Kelloggs

The 16 competencies that the study recorded were, in descending other from most popular to least:

– Inspires and motivates others
– Displays high integrity and honesty
– Solves problems and analyzes issues
– Drives for results
– Communicates powerfully and prolifically
– Collaborates and promotes teamwork
– Builds relationships
– Displays technical or professional expertise
– Develops others
– takes initiative
– Innovates
– Champions change
– Connects the group to the outside world
– Establishes stretch goals
– Practices self-development

This data suggest to just that as people move up within the organization, the fundamental skills they need will not drastically change. Our data further indicate that the relative importance of the skills do not change to some degree as people move up. We concluded from the analysis of the data, that there is some logic to focusing one distinct competencies and different developmental stages. More fundamentally, this shows us that there are also a set of skills that are crucial to you throughout your career. If you wait until you’re a top manager to develop strategic perspective, it will be too late A lack of strategic perspective indicate a fatal flaw even when your current job doesn’t necessarily require it. Your managers want to see you demonstrate that skill before the offer you a promotion.

It is useful to ask yourself which competencies are the most critical for you at this moment in your current role. It is also a crucial question to ask yourself which competencies are going to be the most critical in the future for the next level job you wish to pursue. Demonstrating the skills in your current job provides evidence that you will be successful in the next job.

Courage Within Leadership

My Point Of View on Confidence is based on my many conversations and experiences during my personal leadership evolution.  I hope that they will prove useful for you as you evolve and build Your Confidence Foundation.

Others will certainly believe in You, Motivate You, and Inspire You.  However, you can’t wait for or depend on external confidence injections.  TRUE Confidence comes from within.  YOU have to believe in YOU.  This belief in YOU is fortified with the right combination of Self-Esteem, Personal Accountability, and Courage.
Self-Esteem- Our self-esteem is often degraded by the “little voice” in our heads, the “voice” of self doubt.  That “voice” that has been with us for as long as we can remember, it has been with us in the good times and the tough times.  Too often, the deep concerns from our lifetimes are relayed to us by that “voice”.  It says things like “I’m not good enough”, “I don’t belong here with these people from a different background”,”don’t they see that I have doubts”, “I got promoted to a new role but can I really handle it”, “why do they believe in me?”,”why are they looking at me as I try to make a point”, “I blew it last time, don’t mess up again”, etc.  We need to stop the “voice” of self-doubt.  The messages need to be POSITIVE.  We should tell ourselves “these people want to hear what I have to say”, “I belong here as I’ve earned my way”, “I need to leverage my strengths and work on my opportunities”, “I can’t wait to learn from others as well as share my insights”, “I feel honored to have people believe in me and I will make them proud!”, etc.  This changing of the “channel” is critical to success.  A positive mental attitude will allow you to celebrate your strengths as well as approach your capability needs with purpose.  You don’t want to let yourself down.
Accountability- Personal Accountability is the glue that holds your foundation together.  I often have asked people “if you have a friend who let you down, made you feel bad, missed appointments, and did not uphold commitments – how long would they be your friend?”  The answer is always “for not long”.  Why do we do these very same things to ourselves?  We let ourselves down for a variety of reasons. However, over-commitment and the subsequent frustration are often primary drivers.  These roadblocks can be dealt with thru reasonable goal setting along with personal clarity.  Think about the many roles that you play in your life – a mother/father, son/daughter. Servant, brother/sister, professional, employee, executive, community leader, friend, citizen, human being, etc.  Think about the many areas in which you engage – emotional, intellectual, physical, financial, spiritual, societal, professional, etc.  These areas need goals to be fulfilled.  I recommend that you decide where you will play your focus over the next year as it relates to your multi-year plans.

Consider your many roles as you make your decisions.  For example, on the emotional level, you may decide that you need to place more of a focus on being a better parent to truly fulfill your family’s potential.  Then set goals around how you will engage with your children, time you will spend as a family unit, how often you will call your parents, etc. The long term impact will be that you will role model for your children how a parent should express their love.  You also might want to combine focus areas.  For example, if your long-term goal is to be a Senior Executive and you feel that your financial base is light.  Going after an MBA satisfies your Intellectual need while enabling your Professional goal.
Courage- I have often said that “Our resolve is greater than our circumstances”. We don’t always see this when are in the storm or faced with a challenge.  To draw upon this courage, you should leverage your confidence foundation by calling upon the entities that give you strength.  Who are you fighting for?  Who is depending on me?  Who has inspired you? A tact that could work is to think about the important people in your life – past and present.  Lao Tzu’s quote says it all -”Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”  Despite the challenges you face, there are people who have believed in you and whom you won’t let down.  When fear creeps in, turn it on its ear and leverage it to drive you to maximize your success.  Move Forward With Courage.

Leadership has to do with Emotion

If you focus on a few of your favorite leaders from any segment of business, social media, politics, or science and ask yourself why you particularly admire these individuals. Chances are high that you are in admiration of them because of their many accomplishments and success. The interesting thing to note here is that everyone on your list of leaders to admire reaches you at an emotional level.

The ability to connect and reach people in a way of emotional means transcends the intellectual and rational aspects of ourselves, which in turn makes a good leader. The bottom line being, great leaders inspire us. Inspiration leads to working within our best selves and delivering our best work.

The interesting question lies within this characteristic to inspire others; can it be learned? The truth is that not everyone is cut out to lead and there is no substitute for natural leadership skills. However, those who fall short within being a natural born leader can rest assured that certain highly important and effective leadership skills can be acquired and perfected.

Tools that allow leaders to shine:

Emotional Intelligence.
Great leaders are empathetic and have the ability to read and understand other people’s needs. This allows them to speak directly to those set of needs that are most pressing in any given situation and possibly gives them a better chance of fulfilling them. Thus, this helps leaders create a true, lasting bond.

Continuous Learning.
Great leaders know that learning and acquiring knowledge and new ways of thinking never stops. It is an ongoing process of thinking, learning, and shaping new ideas. Curiosity is a great indicator of a good leader, as well as investing in themselves.

Great leaders respond to a challenging situation with a fresh outlook. They realize that what worked in one situation may not work in the current one. Before they act, they gather the specifics of each situation and shape their actions accordingly.

Let Go.
Leadership is not control. It is about inspiring and then getting out of the way. They know that talented and competent individuals do not need or desire hovering micromanagers. Leadership is mainly about influence, support and guidance. Being a leader is just another role in the whole picture of things.

This is the most important characteristic of a leader. Leaders lose credibility when they are dishonest and this is often because of the pressure to try to measure up to others, and it is not originating from a place of being a real contributor. If you have a reputation of honestly, it will make your deliverance of solutions to problems much easier.

Nice people don’t finish last. The finish first and first over again. Ignorance and arrogance are the biggest leadership killers and also a major mark of insecurity. Treating people with a level of respect is an absolute must and kindness is the gift that keeps on giving.

Collaboration & Partnering.
Being a good leader means being open to working with others equally and utilizing their ideas in conjunction with yours. It means doing what is best for the whole of the organization and communicating goals and challenges in the best way that you can.

Find out what your people’s goals are and help then pursue their desires. You will gain happy and productive employees who will work at the top of their potential with passion and full commitment. This is a branding opportunity to spread your greatness.

Leadership being both an art and a science has guidelines for success. Not every leader will take the same classes, read the same books or articles, or even have the same personality type. Make these tools a general idea of what makes a good leader and implement them as a basis to build your influence. Angel Rodriguez Frito Lay HR VP

Overall, reach people at an emotional level by being human. That is probably the most important thing that makes a difference.


Executive Update: Angel Rodriguez joins Reffett Associates

September 2014 – Angel L. Rodriguez has joined Reffett Associates as the Managing Director of the firm’s new Dallas, TX office.

Angel has over 20 years of corporate executive experience as a respected senior business and human resources leader. Most recently, he served the business community as the Chief HR Officer for WorldVentures, a travel and direct selling company, with over 250,000 representatives and HQ staff. Prior to this, Angel served as the Senior HR Leader for Kellogg International business, specifically Asia, Latin America, and Europe . In addition, Angel was a key leader in the integration of the Pringles acquisition by Kellogg. Before joining Kellogg, Angel was the Senior Vice President of Human Resources for United Surgical Partners International, a leader in the ambulatory surgery industry, and preceding that was a Senior HR Executive at Frito Lay, where he was accountable for 43,000 field employees, led a team of 175 HR professionals, led the North American Staffing efforts, and was a key business and culture enabler.

Angel has served on several non-profit boards, including the Corporate Advisory Board for the National Society of Hispanic MBAs, the Harvard/Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility Alumni Network, the Texas Lyceum, and the National Board for the Girl Scouts of the USA. In addition, Angel is an Eagle Scout and a member of the INROADS Alumni Hall of Fame, and is actively involved in the movement to find solutions for the challenge of Autism.

He holds a Bachelor of Arts from The University of Connecticut, a Master of Business Administration from The University of Texas at Dallas, and a Governance certificate from Harvard Business School.

Angel’s deep human resource experience in consumer package goods, direct store delivery, manufacturing, logistics, supply chain, sales, multi-level marketing, and healthcare will be a great asset to Reffett Associates as we continue our growth throughout the US.