As a leadership and communications coach, I’ve dabbled in various leadership and communication books, strategies and content. After some time, a lot of them seem to look the same. But when I laid my eyes on ‘The Ride of a Lifetime’, which described itself as ‘lessons in creative leadership’ and had the Disney logo, it instantly peaked my interest, and I was in!
Not only does this book contain a lot of key lessons for leadership success, but what I found truly unique and refreshing about this book was it was done through the lens of Bob Iger, the CEO of one of the world’s largest companies in terms of market capitalisation, profit, and brand power - Disney.
It wasn’t simply a formal recount with the winning formula on how to run a business. Iger talks about the reality of being in the business, with all the amazing, horrifying and insightful stories and lessons that make up the evolution of his somewhat unconventional career. He also delves into the influence of his childhood and upbringing, and how those key traits and habits heavily influenced the way he ran business later on in life (which heavily appealed to my Psychology biased mind!)
However, it was one part of the book that really stood out to me - the top 10 principles Bob believes all leaders should live by as I found it really resonated with me, and the type of leader I strive to be.
1. Optimism - “People aren’t motivated or energised by pessimism.”
This isn’t one you hear about every day, yet it is one of the most important qualities that define a true leader.
If you think about it, who would you want to look up in times of need - someone who thinks the whole world is crashing down, and always reverts to the worst case scenario? Or someone who looks for the opportunity in the difficulty and comes at it from the perspective that the glass is always half full? Definitely the latter. Overall, the tone you set as a leader has a huge effect on the people around you.
2. Courage - “Fear stifles innovation”
Taking risks is how we innovate and how business gets done. The courage required to take these risks won’t be there if you are clouded with the fears of failure or of change. You won’t get anywhere by playing it safe.
Iger’s wise words: “I didn’t want to be in the business of playing it safe. I wanted to be in the business of creating possibilities for greatness. Of all the lessons I learned in that first year running prime time, the need to be comfortable with failure was the most profound.”
3. Focus - “Communicate your priorities”
Focusing your attention towards structured goals and priorities is critical to effective leadership. Firstly you must define your priorities; create a hierarchical list, focus on the task of highest importance, and progressively work your way down. Secondly, and equally as important, is to communicate your priorities clearly especially to your team so they know how to contribute and align their work according to your intended priorities.
4. Decisiveness - “Balance the need to make and implement decisions.”
Being able to make decisions deliberately and knowing that there are risks that come with it are one of the factors that make or break a successful person. There is a delicate balance between encouraging diversity of opinion, whilst reaching a decision and outcome in a timely manner.