Life-Long Learning Propels Mercedes Leader to Serve
As Dr. Barbara Baggerly-Hinojosa sees it, great leaders are trained, educated and formed through study and practice, and not born with the great traits of leadership.
The Waco native and longtime Mercedes resident is a student and teacher of leadership through her Leadership Empowerment Group, a company she bases out of a renovated century-old home in the Mid-Valley city. Baggerly-Hinojosa is a proponent of servant leadership, which emphasizes listening, empathy, awareness and healing as among its key skills, all topics covered in a 2010 book she authored.
That book – “Are You A Ten? The Ten Characteristics Of A Servant Leader’’ – was a prelude to Baggerly-Hinojosa’s Leadership Empowerment Group. Her company today works with and trains an array of companies in the Rio Grande Valley, San Antonio, and Waco in the areas of leadership development, customer service, team building and conflict management.
In the Valley alone, her company works with produce companies, hospitals, accountants, and dentists along with non-profits, and aligns the lofty goals of servant leadership with the practicalities of real world workplaces.
“They know their technical stuff,’’ Baggerly-Hinojosa said of her clients. “They need help with the soft skills. You can have a pretty building, but if you’re rude and don’t know how these skills fit into running a business, you will lose customers.’’
Baggerly-Hinojosa has learned those skills in a nearly 30-year journey that has taken her from being a teacher’s aide in Mercedes and continuing life-long learning in becoming a teacher, principal, public school administrator, and today an assistant professor for the Our Lady of the Lake University campus in La Feria. In more recent years, she added another title – publisher and owner of The Mercedes Enterprise.
She found a home in Mercedes 27 years ago and has never left even as her business ventures have taken her throughout Texas. Her first inclination was to base her leadership group out of McAllen, but the home on Missouri Street piqued Baggerly-Hinojosa’s interest, and she’s glad it did in looking out her second-floor office in the stately home.
“The Mid-Valley and Mercedes is perfect for us,’’ she said. “It allows us to serve both ends of the Valley and to do it well. I have offices elsewhere, but I do my best work and thinking here.’’
Baggerly-Hinojosa and her team of consultants all have doctoral degrees with strong teaching backgrounds. She calls that fact her company’s “competitive advantage.’’
“At the end of the day, we are teachers,’’ Baggerly-Hinojosa said. “We have all of this experience in education and we marry it with our knowledge of business.’’
Baggerly-Hinojosa brings another life experience to her business – one of being a mother – and recalls staying at home for six years to be with her children during their formative years.
“I felt like I was raising every child in Mercedes,’’ she said, recalling her years in public education. “So I figured I’d stay home and raise mine.’’
She’s upbeat about her adopted hometown, seeing growth and potential, and wanting do her part to equip Mercedes with good leaders. Taking ownership of The Enterprise, a historic and ongoing piece of Mercedes is part of service to others and giving back to the community that she relishes.
“It all feels like it fits together to me,’’ Baggerly-Hinojosa said of her leadership group and the community newspaper.
With an eye toward opening a new office in her hometown of Waco in June 2019, and expanding her company’s reach, Baggerly-Hinojosa knows being a servant leader is always a work-in-progress.
“No one will exhaust our services because none of us will perfect all of those skills,’’ she said
- Ricardo D. Cavazos