|Source: The Walt Disney Company|
Bob Iger stepped down as CEO of Disney just before the COVID-19 crisis escalated. He remains Chairman of the company. Naturally, the firm faces some serious challenges at the moment. Several months ago, I read Iger's book on leadership and his career at Disney/ABC. It was titled, "The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company." I thought that it was one of the more insightful books I've read by a senior executive. Here are a few of my favorite leadership lessons from the book:
It’s not good to have power for too long. You don’t realize the way your voice seems to boom louder than every other voice in the room. You get used to people withholding their opinions until they hear what you have to say. People are afraid to bring ideas to you, afraid to dissent, afraid to engage. This can happen even to the most well-intentioned leaders. You have to work consciously and actively to fend off its corrosive effects.
We all want to believe we’re indispensable. You have to be self-aware enough that you don’t cling to the notion that you are the only person who can do this job. At its essence, good leadership isn’t about being indispensable; it’s about helping others be prepared to step into your shoes—giving them access to your own decision-making, identifying the skills they need to develop and helping them improve, and sometimes being honest with them about why they’re not ready for the next step up.
You have to convey your priorities clearly and repeatedly. If you don’t articulate your priorities clearly, then the people around you don’t know what their own should be. Time and energy and capital get wasted.
Hold on to your awareness of yourself, even as the world tells you how important and powerful you are. The moment you start to believe it all too much, the moment you look at yourself in the mirror and see a title emblazoned on your forehead, you’ve lost your way.