More Tough Questions



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

  1. Great post!
    Standing up for the people that work for you, even when it does not work out is an excellent way to show that you care. I appreciate the reminder.

  2. Thank you for the information that you provide on leadership. In this day and time, this kind of teaching is so vitally important and not just in the corporate world. Leadership training in all industries and in all sectors of society is necessary for proper functioning of our world in general. Being positive is also absolutely essential for any leader who hopes to be effective and successful in what they do. Leaders most often find that throughout the course of their day, everyday, they have to deal with all of the problems. As a leader, you will quickly find that those whom you employ or that you supervise seem to automatically funnel every problem and every complex concern your way. You will find yourself coming in to work each and every day with nothing but a desk full of messages that are problems for you to fix. In these cases, being positive can help to alleviate some of the stress and anxiety that you may experience and it can cause you to focus on the good that can come from each situation. Being the leader who is also the designated problem-solver has its perks and in time, you will find that you will become very good at it.

  3. The message is straight forward and simple; however, sometimes the execution is difficult when it comes to remaining positive, even though you do your best daily, exercise professional and have your team support you but, the executive leadership team does not want to hear suggestions for improvement that you and your team have developed. There are times when you wish someone would recognize the hard work that you do and that you are doing the best with the situation you have been delt.

  4. Try your best and they will respect you and thats all you can ask for. There are a lot of managers out there that just want the answers they want to hear, when you you give them something different you are either a rebel or a soon to be un-employed cast member. Leaders will take the good with the bad and as long as you can back up what comes out of your mouth they will respect you for it. If you plan to walk the walk make sure you can talk the talk.

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