|Leah and Dr. Levy overseeing a leadership exercise|
In one assignment in Disney’s Leadership Strategies program, our class was divided into three groups in charge of three separate business functions in a fictitious company. Volunteers were selected for leadership positions. The person adjacent to them would now be the leadership. Lesson #1 – you can be thrust into a leadership position at any time.
The CEO explained to the leadership that we were to create a new product line, slogan, and logo. My task was the same as the others, but when talking with the team I could only answer yes or no. We had 10 minutes to complete the task, and were asked if we had any questions. Contemplating the difficult task ahead, I inquired if I could write to my team. Indeed, binary responses were only limited to speech. Lesson #2 – when facing a difficult task, search for creative options to reduce roadblocks.
I jotted down our three goals and our 10-minute limitation. Collaboratively, we made progress on two of the goals. With 9 minutes remaining, our CEO conveyed satisfaction with our progress, and announced my promotion. Due to urgency, I would need to change teams immediately. Lesson #3 – change can be forced upon an organization with little notice.
As I met with my new team without the previous restrictions, I requested the status on our goals. My new role was disrupting the inertia within our team, and they were resistant to accepting my leadership. Lesson #4, don't underestimate the challenge of organizational changes.
As my team worked on the project, I discovered that myself and another leader had a mistaken vision for the company. Had we clarified the vision with the CEO at the onset, we would have increased our chances for success dramatically. Lesson #5, Ask the right questions. Clarify and communicate any mistaken assumptions early on.