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Lessons learned in Iraq aid in leadership role

19. April 2018 11:06

By: Guy Bucey, Inova

After two tours as a Marine in Irag, I came home in 2009 with a broken foot and PTSD. I started working with wood as a form of therapy.

After I was released from the military, I was looking for a job to harness my woodworking skills and new newfound passion for working with wood. Inova offered me a job as floor manager, and I jumped at the opportunity to turn his hobby into a career. Inova is based in Altamont, New York and specializes in wall beds and other niche small-space furniture.

I was fortunate to quickly work my way up the corporate ladder. I am now the Director of Operations for the company. Although I’m not exactly working with wood hands-on, I do love overseeing the daily logistics of the manufacturing plant.

My career in woodworking wouldn’t have been possible without Iraq. It was there that I learned the leadership skills that now drive my decisions made at Inova.

In Iraq, I learned that every Marine is a leader, so one of the first major changes I brought to Inova was to ditch the idea of factory workers versus sales staff versus office staff. Instead we brought everyone in as equal employees. Part of that process involved trusting them to address their own problems. One of the ways I helped them do this was by holding daily meetings for them to address their concerns.

 Another lesion I learned in Iraq was to lead from the front. At Inova, I don’t ask someone to do something that I haven’t done or wouldn’t do myself.

 I’ll admit that I did face some struggles while I was adapting to the civilian way of thinking. In the military the focus is on building up the weaker links, but in the business world if someone isn’t doing their job, you can simply fire him/her. I really struggle with the easy answer to just fire an employee.

 During my seminar at IWF, I will speak more about my experiences, both in Iraq and at Inova. I encourage you to attend my session, "The Power of Leadership: Keeping Employees Inspired for the Long Run" to learn more about my leadership style.

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