Walt Disney was and is a revered personality. He is respected by even those who don’t necessarily like his works. Very few people have had as unforgettable an impact on the world as Walter Elias Disney. But he was not a man without his fair share of controversies. Some of his works have been heavily critiqued, his leadership style had been questioned on many occasions and he had encountered serious troubles with his workforce at certain points in time.
What was the Walt Disney Management Style?
Walt Disney management style was initially dictatorial. He had his way of doing things and that was the only way everything would be done. He did not have any intention or inclination to hear what others had to say. He was more like a one man team and others were just playing their part. Over time, his dictatorial management style diluted into authoritative.
Many people call Walt Disney management style patriarchal because he presented himself as a father figure and his workforce was his family. Patriarchal leadership or management is a derivative of dictatorial or authoritarian leadership. All rights and powers rested in him while he took care of his workforce in whichever way he wanted. This was very apparent when he stood against unionization of his workforce. He did not want to let the powers be snatched from his hands and he certainly did not want a union to dictate terms to him.
But Walt Disney management style was also fair, a reason why he did not like the concept of unions. He felt that he treated his employees well, which is not disputed because he was always generous to deserving people. He encouraged people to be creative in unique and original ways and paid generous wages as well as bonuses. He was an inspiring leader who also championed transformational management in certain instances. Whenever he had the room for improvement or a transformation of his modus operandi, business and the larger company interests, he did indulge in changes.
Walt Disney management style cannot be confined to any one type or definition. He also changed as he became older and throughout his career he had practiced various styles. Some of his decisions were criticized but most of his standpoints and leadership qualities are hailed even today.
Apparently, one doesn’t get to build an empire without being authoritative or slightly dictatorial and we have seen that in Walt Disney, Steve Jobs, Henry Ford and many others.