Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Leadership insights at Disney

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.


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