The Greatest Lesson of Leadership from the CEO of Disney

Gain the secret of success from the CEO of Disney who will inspire you with leadership lesson through his up and down moment and life story from his journey to ride the happiest place on earth: Disney.

Here’s my biggest takeaways:

1. Communicate Your Priorities Clearly & Repeatedly

Before Bob was chosen to be the CEO of Disney, he passed through series of interviews from board members and consultants doubt his nomination and one thing that he did differently are pretty bold: Focusing on the future of Disney, not the past.

With his strong experience of leading Disney & ABC Media Company, Bob consistently made himself stand out among other candidates by sharing his clear futuristic vision for Disney to direct the company to new possibilities:

  • Making high-quality branded content
  • Embrace technology to the fullest extent
  • Growing globally

What he did is totally right and consistent. He totally proved it after he was chosen as the CEO. He believes we have convey our priorities clearly and repeatedly. There are so many leaders in the world don’t articulate his priority then the people around them don’t know what they their own should be. Bob Iger is a living evidence of how he transformed his priorities into real action that bring the company to the next level.

It should be about the future, not the past.

Bob Iger

2. Courage: Taking Risk in Ever Changing Disrupted World

Bob believes courage is the foundation of risk taking in ever-changing, disrupted business. He believe true innovation occurs only when people have courage. What I love the most from him is his courage to show his courage through relentless optimistic action that always inspire a new hope for the future of his company.

Optimistic emerges from faith in yourself and in the people who work for you. It’s not about saying things are good when they’re not and it’s not about conveying some blind faith that “brings will work out”. It’s about believing in your and other’s abilities.

Bob Iger

Don’t communicate pessimism to the people around you.

When he started becoming CEO, he faced a lot of rejection, doubt, and No sayers who don’t have faith in Disney. This is my favorite quote of Bob: It’s easy to be optimistic when everyone is telling you you’re great. It’s much harder and much more necessary, when your sense of yourself in on the line.

In 14 years, Bob Iger revitalized an iconic American brand through 4 acquisitions of the biggest entertainments: Pixar, Marvel, Lucas Film, 21st Century Fox.

My favorite part of the books when Bob shared very deep story how he approached Steve Jobs who lead Pixar at that time and convince him that there are so many pros/plus sides in merging Pixar & Disney. At that time, it’s almost impossible to acquire Pixar as Steve Jobs first believed Disney will ruin Pixar culture. Through close observation of the Pixar’s culture, Bob really showed the power of empathy which made Steve Jobs sold Pixar to Disney.

Be in the business of creating possibilities for greatness.

3.Treating Others with Authenticity & Respect

Above all, I believe the key success of Bob Iger is the way he valued people around him. He successfully won Steve Jobs & George Lucas heart by creating an environment where these people believe Bob that he will hear them out, that he’s emotionally consistent and fair minded. With Authenticity, Bob successfully acquire Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars franchise under Disney brand. Take a look at Disney+ to enjoy this power of collaboration!

You have to approach your work and life with a sense of genuine humility.

Bob’s integrity of treating people can also be clearly seen when he decided to fire Rosseanne who tweeted racist comment about Valerie Jarret even tough she has strong performance in ABC TV show. Bob said “It was hard but it’s the right thing to do.”

He believes in genuine decency – an instinct for fairness and openness and mutual respect that we should look and nurture who work for you.

Bob also value ability more than experience & he put people in roles that require more of them than they know they have in them.

Surround yourself with people who are good in addition to being good at what they do.

Bob Iger

He believes that although you commit a mistake, you need to own up your mistakes and acknowledge them, learn from them, and set an example that it’s okay to get wrong sometimes. Admit without apology what you don’t understand and do the work to learn what you need to learn as quickly as you can. Don’t be afraid to start your change!

Let’s join the ride!


Steven is a life long learner and multi-award educational technology coach with international certifications from Google, Apple, National Geographic, TED Ed, Google Earth Education, EdTech Team, EduTECH Asia, Young Southeast Asia Leaders Initiative, US Embassy, Tech in Asia, and many international and local institutions.

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