Leadership Matters: Manny Vela


Leadership Matters: Manny Vela

Editor’s Note: Leadership can mean different things to different people. The Valley Business Report wanted to learn more about the views on leadership through the words of experienced business leaders in the Rio Grande Valley. Starting with this month’s edition, VBR introduces Leadership Matters, a new question-and-answer feature that poses questions on leadership to Valley CEOs and other business leaders.

Valley Baptist Health System CEO Manny Vela
Valley Baptist Health System CEO Manny Vela

Manny Vela

CEO, Valley Baptist Health System


What are the most important decisions you make as a leader of your organization?

Vela: The most important decisions that I make as a leader for my organization involve the building of our team. I truly believe in the notion that if you hire well then you are in a much better position to excel. Our rallying cry has always been “servant leadership,” so we focus on making sure that our potential team members are of good character, full integrity and committed to helping us reach out goal of offering the highest quality healthcare in the safest environment with as much passion and compassion as we can muster.

VBR: What leadership strategy is most helpful in nurturing innovation in your company?

Vela: The leadership strategy most helpful in nurturing innovation in my company would have to be our willingness to create an environment where risk and experimentation are not punished but rather welcomed. In order to do so, it is imperative that we make sure our employees are aligned as to the mission and vision of our organization and then constantly ask for innovative input from our employees regarding their ideas on how we can continuously improve and enhance the manner in which we provide healthcare. The key is to always ask the question and then be willing to sit back and listen to all ideas that come your way.

VBR: Describe the most important characteristic that you believe every leader should possess.

Vela: I believe there is a combination of characteristics that leaders should try to possess.  These would include the ability to be humble, maintain integrity at all times, be compassionate and empathetic while always striving to motivate and inspire by example. Each characteristic is worthy of recognition in its own right but the ability to exhibit them all is extremely powerful.

VBR: What is your greatest frustration as a business leader?

Vela: My biggest frustration as a leader is my inability to always communicate my message in a clear and concise manner. As such, I constantly work on honing my ability to deliver my message.

VBR: What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time?

Vela: A new leader should never forget that she/he will ultimately be defined by their integrity and credibility. As such, leaders should always follow the tried and true rule of “mean what you say and say what you mean.”  It is also imperative that new leaders treat folks with respect, professionalism and dignity if it is their expectation that all members of their organization be treated in a like manner.

If you know of a Valley business leader you would like to see featured in Leadership Matters, please email the information to managing editor George Cox at george@valleybusinessreport.com.

George Cox is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years experience as a newspaper writer and editor. A Corpus Christi native, he started his career as a reporter for The Brownsville Herald after graduating from Sam Houston State University with a degree in journalism. He later worked on newspapers in Laredo and Corpus Christi as well as northern California. George returned to the Valley in 1996 as editor of The Brownsville Herald and in 2001 moved to Harlingen as editor of the Valley Morning Star. He also held the position of editor and general manager for the Coastal Current, a weekly entertainment magazine with Valleywide distribution. George retired from full-time journalism in 2015 to work as a freelance writer and legal document editor. He continues to live in Harlingen where he and his wife Katherine co-founded Rio Grande Valley Therapy Pets, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising public awareness of the benefits of therapy pets and assisting people and their pets to become registered therapy pet teams.