I was looking through the list of questions that were submitted from the leadership conference at Disney a few years ago and I noticed a fair number that are pretty negative. I would suggested that everyone go back and read Disney Great Leader Strategy No. 10 about being professional. The No. 1 tactic in that strategy that I think is really important is to “be positive.”
On many of the questions my answer would be to do your personal best. For instance one question was: “How do you expect us to treat Cast Members as individuals when we have a union contract that says that seniority is the rule for scheduling people, and someone has a legitimate reason why they need to be off; but they don’t have the seniority?”
Again my answer would be to try your best to work with all of your Cast Members to see if someone will volunteer to help out this Cast Member and give up their high-seniority shift. This may work or it may not work . . . but you have tried your best. Think about if you can find someone from another area of the property to fill that shift, or just run without the shift if the request is more important than the need to have that Cast Member in place.
Making leadership and management decisions is a tough balance and often takes a lot of finesse and extra work. I know that if you try your best your Cast Members will appreciate that alone, even if things don’t work out perfectly.
Someone else asked: “How do you deal with leaders above you or give them feedback if they are not displaying great leadership behaviors and they have made it clear that they don’t want feedback?”
I would say on this question that I would do it carefully. First of all, this kind of person is not a leader. This Cast Member has isolated himself or herself to being a manager—but not a leader—and this will catch up with that manager eventually.
Some leaders are great in this area and actually have already sent the message in many ways to their teams that they can and will accept feedback on their own performance and behaviors. If the leader you are thinking of has not done this, then I would not be giving him or her much feedback as it might be turned around on you. This is unfortunate, but it is true. You will have the opportunity on the Cast Excellence Survey to let this person know the truth without worry. Remember that either you or that manager will move on eventually.
I have had a few bosses in my life, and I call them bosses and not leaders because they were not leaders. They were people who thought that they knew everything and used their authority and superior salary grade in a negative way. They did not display the behaviors of a great leader. They were good managers, as they could get “things” done; but they did not develop future leaders or inspire those around them to be great. As I look back on my career and locate all of these former bosses, it turns out that their careers peaked early; and they did not continue to move up in their organizations.
Remember that every dog has his day; and even if they are fortunate to move up into higher and higher levels of responsibility and fool their leaders, one thing is for sure—and that is that they end up at the end of their careers with few friends and few people who admire them, and that is the tragedy of it all.
Below are a few questions that I ask in my Time/ Life Management course:
- If you have a great job and great pay, are you successful?
- If you are able to produce financial results and not inspire your teams to greatness, are you successful?
- If you are unable to develop great Leaders, are you really successful?
I think you know the answer to these questions.
Being a pretty good leader is one thing . . . and being a great leader is a far different thing.
I tried to field several questions that fall into one bucket—Leadership. Please remember: No matter what happens and what others do, make sure that you remain professional and positive and do your very best. We cannot always change others, but we sure can change ourselves.
I can worry about what others do and try to change them with different levels of success, and I should do it to the best of my ability.
The one thing that I can do for sure, though, and for which I don’t need anyone’s approval is to do my very best and continually try in every way to be self-aware of areas where I need to improve my own performance.
Have a good weekend everyone. It looks like anywhere you are, you will be cold….Lee