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IN The Lead/ Patrick Buesching

Leaders must be positive

Honesty, compassion and humility also key for 80/20 manager

Patrick H. Buesching, 50, is Learning and Development Manager at 80/20 Inc. in Columbia City

Community and leadership involvement: Vice president, Headwaters Park Alliance; member, Board of Trustees at Northeast Indiana Public Radio; Leadership Whitley County Participant, Class of 2013; Leadership Fort Wayne, Class of 2012.

Most recent accomplishment: Establishing a Learning & Development Department within 80/20 Inc. and working to create a Design Processes course where high school students use our T-slotted aluminum product (aluminum lumber) to make their own creative projects. The course earns the student high school credit within local schools and will initially impact more than 125 students with 29 enrolled now at Columbia City High School and another 100 at Eagle Tech High School who will be in a future course. It’s designed to open students’ minds with a product that utilizes blueprints and sketching, measurement systems, safety, mathematics, creativity, engineering, and mechanical developmental skills. The class also teaches important business related skills like teamwork, communication, and entrepreneurship.

What makes a leader: “The ability to understand the difference between managing things and leading people,” Buesching said in an email. “Good leaders must be principled-centered and have confidence to be able to see the future and create a vision for how they are going to get there.” Ethics, energy, ability to balance responsibilities, and listening skills are also crucial, he said. And leaders must be willing to engage in the tasks they ask others to participate in.

Leadership traits you most value: “The most important skill is to always have a positive attitude,” Buesching said. Honesty, compassion, humility, and a willingness to admit mistakes are also important.

Best leadership book you’ve read: “The Halo Effect” by Phil Rosenzweig. The book presents a case for evidence-based analysis of management, which leads to successful business performance.

Best ways to overcome self doubt: “Becoming involved in the community by volunteering in areas where you are truly passionate,” Buesching said. “Focusing on others gives you the ability to shift your doubts, and the associated energy, away from yourself and instead into helping others. The satisfaction that comes from this is truly uplifting.”

Time management tips: Borrowing from Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Buesching agrees with the concept of putting “first things first.” Some things are important and others are merely urgent, which means they could be put off until later while you work on more important tasks. Your work team plays a critical role, Buesching said, in helping you understand what is important. It’s also important to take an occasional break, which help you maintain a healthy balance so that when you are working you can give 110 percent.

Role model(s) and why: Don Wood, president/chief executive officer at 80/20 inc., for having a vision and sticking with it – even when those around him did not believe. “He has changed the way people view projects, whether they are in the manufacturing world or within the home with design options and flexibility, to a level that no one else could achieve,” Buesching wrote. “He has unbelievable energy, unbridled passion and enthusiasm for everything he does, and an endless passion for staying focused on the customer. “

Describe one leadership challenge and how you resolved it: In a previous job, Buesching said he had an employee who wanted to apply for another job in the organization. She was a dynamic individual and a top performer whom he did not want to lose from his team. The woman explained to Buesching that she was happy working for him, but thought the new job was a better fit for her skills. Buesching said he could have reacted selfishly, but realized holding her back would have been unfair. He decided to enthusiastically support her decision to apply for the new job. She ultimately was offered the new position, and has done a fantastic job.

What are your goals: Buesching would like to see the Learning and Development operation at 80/20 become known as a model for other companies because of its successes. “The limitation that often keeps companies from exponential growth is the lack of people with the right skill set,” he said. The Learning and Development Department will help develop people through a Leadership Development program, and also provide all employees the opportunity to grow and thrive. One of our mottos is “We Grow our Own!” Buesching would also like to see the students taking the Design Processes classes develop skills that will help local business and industry thrive.

Hobbies: Anything outdoors including walking, hiking, and bicycling, but Buesching also loves reading. “Allen County has some fantastic trails and parks that keep getting better each year,” he said. “I am also a voracious reader primarily non-fiction books, newspapers, and magazines.”

Family: Wife, Melissa Buesching

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