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Disney Magic: 3 Things Leaders Can Learn

Disney is one of the biggest and most loved brands in the world. What started as a small cartoon studio is now a company known for its massive movie studios, animation studios, and multiple theme parks. In Lifewire’s brief history of the Walt Disney Company, it is also evident that the massive enterprise went through a lot of ups and downs to get where they are today – a company that is loved and admired for the magic it brings everywhere.

People equate Disney to their childhood. But Disney isn’t just about sprinkling fairy dust – it’s a company that has stood the test of time. Walt Disney is one of the most successful business leaders of all time, and his principles are still reflected in the Disney company that we know today. Read through the article below to find out the three things leaders can learn from Disney.

Know the Value of Storytelling

From the 1930’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to 2021’s Encanto, Disney has had a successful storytelling formula that has resonated with their audiences. But Disney also knows how important storytelling is in a business setting. Storytelling can make sense of complicated organizations and complex operations. The Harvard Business Review connects storytelling with leadership and outlines how it can build credibility for your ideas. This is because storytelling can help leaders present their visions in the clearest way possible.

Everywhere you go, there is always a story waiting to be told. A leader needs to have the ability to find that magic and flesh it out. This can inspire the team and boost overall morale. Storytelling goes a long way in explaining objectives and contextualizing a brand to both employees and costumers.

Promoting Innovation Through Creative Leadership

So why does Disney reward creative leadership so much? The answer is that creative leaders are rare. According to insights on creative leadership from LHH, these types of leaders are intensely curious and constantly flexible. They can balance risk with psychological safety, and are intuitive toward decision-making. Creative leaders know when to trust their guts and push for the best results.

Take the recent success of Domee Shi. The creative genius behind the Oscar winner for Best Animated Short Film Bao and the recent Turning Red shared that she is encouraged to tell the stories of her experience as an Asian woman from Canada. Domee Shi explained how Pixar legend Pete Docter was the one who encouraged her to stick with her original storyline for Bao after seeing how innovative the story was.

Don’t Just Follow the Data, Follow Your Heart

Former Disney CEO Bob Iger had some words for his successor, Bob Chapek. As we wrote in our previous post ‘Business Between the Bobs’, Iger reiterated the importance of following your heart. In a competitor-heavy industry, it is so easy to fall back on data and let it dictate the next move. But data couldn’t have quantified the diversity of Black Panther or Coco, both of which reached massive audiences.

As a leader, it is hard to let go of numbers and data. It has its purposes and it provides a good roadmap to success. But following your heart adds a human element that can resonate with more people. It shows authenticity – which is something that most people forget.