Colleen and I spent Christmas at Disney World. Having just completed the autobiography of the Walt Disney Company’s CEO, “The Ride of a Lifetime,” we were particularly tuned in to expressions of Bob Iger‘s Principles.
They were everywhere; from the laser beam focus on cleanliness, to the innovative technology that is part of every experience, to the kindness and engagement of every Disney Cast Member.
In the best moments, all great companies and effective individuals reflect these 10 key ideas. His own words from the book are highlighted in quotes. Links in each section take you to a deeper dive.
Optimism – “A pragmatic enthusiasm for what can be achieved.” Nobody will follow a pessimistic leader.
Courage – “The foundation of risk taking is courage.” Innovation, Iger writes is vital, Risk taking is essential to innovation. And there is no innovation without creativity. Fear of failure destroys the creativity that is the key ingredient of innovation..
Focus – The allocation of, “time, energy and resources to the strategies, problems and projects that are of highest importance and value..” Communicate your priorities clearly and often.
Decisiveness – “All decisions, no matter how difficult, can and should be made in a timely way.” Good leaders encourage a diversity of opinion, balanced with the need to make and implement decisions. Indecision is corrosive to morale.
Curiosity – “A deep and abiding curiosity enables the discovery of new people, places and ideas, as well as an awareness of the marketplace and its changing dynamics.”
Fairness – “Strong leadership embodies the fair and decent treatment of people.” Empathy and accessibility are essential dimensions of fairness. We all make honest mistakes and deserve second chances. Harsh judgement creates a climate of fear and anxiety, discouraging communication and innovation.
Thoughtfulness – “It is the process of gaining knowledge, so that an opinion rendered or a decision made, is more credible, and more likely to be correct.” Take the time to develop “informed opinions“.
Authenticity – “Be genuine. Be honest. Don’t fake anything.” If you want to earn respect and trust, you have to be authentic.
The Relentless Pursuit of Perfection – Not perfectionism at all costs. It’s a refusal to accept mediocrity, or “making excuses for something being good enough.” And if you think something can be improved, work to make it so.
Integrity – “Nothing is more important than the integrity of an organization’s people and its product.” Success is dependent on high ethical standards. “The way you do anything is the way you do everything.”
I hope you will add “The Ride of a Lifetime” to your personal library. This brief overview barely scratches the surface of what is a true American success story.
It strikes me that Bob Iger’s Principles share commonalities with the great leadership philosophers and artists I admire, from Earl Nightingale and Jim Collins to Maya Angelou and Tom Hanks. There are common denominators that impact our ability to succeed. Our own “relentless pursuit of perfection” should bring us back to mindful study and honest self assessment of how closely our own beliefs, and actions, align.