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Medal of Honor winner Bucha explains leadership’s fine points

Bud Bucha MBA ’67 addresses attendees of the Stanford GSB Military Service Appreciation Dinner. Following his talk about leadership, the GSB Veterans Club presented him with their 2011 Service and Leadership Award as recognition of his military service, business career and advocacy for veterans. (JONATHAN POTO/The Stanford Daily)

Bud Bucha MBA’67 addressed an audience filled with veterans, active men and women of the armed services and other members of the Stanford community to talk about what it means to lead at Thursday’s talk, sponsored by the Graduate School of Business Veterans Club.

No stranger to leadership, Bucha was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1970 for his courageous service in Vietnam. The Medal of Honor is the most prestigious award possible for a member of the military and remains a rare distinction. Among the nearly 3,500 recipients of the award (half during the Civil War) only 85 are alive today.

Since receiving the award, Bucha has advocated on behalf of veterans and spoken about the importance of serving those in need. The GSB Veterans Club invited him as part of an event that highlighted military service and raised awareness about military service at Stanford.

Bucha began the talk explaining the importance of connecting with veterans. “I spend one day every week talking to veterans,” he said. “I have learned from them what it means to serve your country.” He stressed that those with the responsibility to lead men and women into harm’s way should “have the courage to define an objective that is finite.”

Bucha then outlined five characteristics of leadership: “integrity, competency, confidence, compassion and humility.” He said each element is “essential to what it means to be a great leader” and argued that universities like Stanford and West Point are “trying to produce leaders of substance.”

“Integrity is the most fundamental part of leadership,” he said. “That is why every military academy has the same honor code: We will not lie, steal or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does.”

After speaking about humility and service, he reflected on those with whom he had served who had fallen in combat.

“Ten of them are written on a wall in Washington and every day I think about the opportunities that I have that they will never have,” he said. “Have you returned for what you have been given?”

“It was a great honor to be in his presence,” said Captain Melissa Ingram, a director of the San Jose State ROTC Program and a member of the audience. “As someone who is in charge of training leaders, I see his humility as something to strive for.”

When asked what his message for Stanford was, Bucha’s answer was simple and direct.

“Always look out for those who are weaker and meeker than you are,” he said. “Always. That is what it means to be a leader.”

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