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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Leadership Strategies from Disney Part 1

A new book on leadership called Creating Magic: 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies from a Life at Disney claims “It's not the magic that makes it work; it's the way we work that makes it magic.” The author Lee Cockerell, a former Executive Vice President of Resort Operations for the Walt Disney Company, shared his insights from his incredible 16 years of front-line experience operating 18 resort hotels, four theme parks, three water parks, five golf courses, a shopping village and nighttime entertainment venue, and sports recreation complex. Lee's years, living the Disney principle, helped make The Walt Disney Company the front- runner in quality, service excellence and guest satisfaction. This book is based on his "Great Leader Strategies,” which Cockerell developed for Walt Disney World cast members.

The 12 strategies that Corkerell defines of a Great Leader are:

#1 Foster An Inclusive Environment!

Workplace inclusion is making sure that everyone matters and that everyone knows that he or she matters. It is about engaging and involving your team by asking their opinion and making it clear you want to hear their point of view. One of the main responsibilities of Leader is to develop future Leaders. Personally get involved and take time to do the so-called soft stuff really well otherwise your team won’t take care of the hard stuff. Disney defined its approach to inclusion with the acronym RAVE for Respect, Appreciate, and Value Everyone.

#2 Design Your Organization Structure For Success… “Break the Mold!”

Organization structure is critical to getting the best results. The most important thing is to make sure that every individual clearly and completely understands what he or she is responsible for, what level of authority he or she has, and how he or she will be held accountable.

#3 Make Sure You Have The Right People In The Right Roles!

Hiring new people and promoting people to new levels are really important to do well and carefully. Each time you have an opening you have the opportunity to add talent and strength your team. Make sure the candidate has the right level of expertise and experience for the job but also consider how the person will blend in with the current team.

#4 Ensure That Cast Members Are Knowledgeable About Their Roles!

Leaders are responsible to train and develop their team members. Education is power. Training and development are two of the best ways to improve self-confidence and self-esteem in everyone. Lead by example - attend all training, communicate best practices, and observe actual conditions and behaviors. The best way to develop people is for the leadership to be actively involved in coaching, counseling, and educating the employees.

#5 Make Dramatic Leaps In Guest Service!

Make dramatic improvements for customers, employees, and for business results. Great leaders don’t maintain anything. In order to improve things you need to know how good they are. Demonstrate zero tolerance for anything but perfection. Visit other places known for “world class excellence” and see what you can learn.

#6 Implement Effective, Structured Processes For Getting Work Done!

We have a process for everything. Leaders have the responsibility to identify process problems and opportunities for improvement so that they are not a hassle and that the make sense. Ask the people doing the work and customers using your products or services for their opinion. Spend time finding out what process made things go wrong and change that versus looking for someone to blame. Great Leaders ask “why” a lot. Implement processes that work and follow-up to ensure they are still working.

In the next post I will present the other 6 great strategies of a Great Leader.


  1. I really like this, but I can't seem to find part 2.

  2. Here is a link to part 2