When you think of classic America, what comes to mind? If you’ve grown up in the US, then you probably think of baseball, the super bowl, fried food, jazz, and a general boot-strap mentality. Now, what comes to mind when you think about American entertainment? More likely then not, Disney Land/World came to mind. Disney is an iconic symbol of fantasy and childhood delight. It is tied to an entire generation of children’s cartoon movies, and is responsible for creating numerous iconic images. Countless movies, television shows, theme parks, books, and more have all come out of this wildly successful brand.
So why are more people not following a Walt Disney leadership style? Let’s take a look at the good and bad of Walt Disney’s leadership to see those traits worth copying, and those better left to the last generation.
Walt Disney built a business from scratch, taking it from obscurity to one of the most well known names in the United States. This came from his projection of a trust and sense of caring between himself and his employees. While his business remained small, he remained a charismatic and driven character who stood as an inspirational figure for all of his employees.
Walt Disney was all about growing the brand and brand popularity. This originally worked well for the employees, but soon this positive dynamic broke down. As Walt Disney continued to expand, he increasingly relied on factory settings to mass-produce everything he needed. Employees complained that this had ruined a way of life that had been positive at work, destroying their own motivation to work towards the betterment of the company.
At the heart of Walt Disney was a business model associated closely with an autocratic leadership style. What that means is that whatever Walt Disney said, went. Walt was known for firing people who disagreed with him on the spot. Contrary to the magical nature associated with the Disney brand, the man behind the company was sometimes seen as ruthless.
No one is perfect, and as a result a leadership style will have good and bad qualities associated with it. If you are interested in the Walt Disney leadership style, then take the good, leave the bad, and center it on your own unique strengths. Good luck finding your own leadership style.