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WHAT MADE BOB IGER A GOOD LEADER? (Including his secret leadership weapon!)

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.

It is important to understand that you aren’t going to make the right decision 100% of the time. However, progress beats stagnation, and it’s better to trust yourself, your capabilities and your instincts when it comes to making timely decisions.

5. Curiosity - “The path to innovation begins with curiosity.”

Curiosity enables the discovery of new people, places and ideas. The more you seek, the more you will learn. Curiosity is also needed to keep up with market changes, technological advancement and changes in societal views.

6. Fairness - “Nothing is worse than a culture of fear.”

obody wants to work under a leader who does not treat people with fairness and decency.Iger enforces high leadership standards in conjunction with empathy, accessibility, and open to giving second chances.

7. Thoughtfulness - “It’s simply about taking the time to develop informed opinions.”

The term ‘thoughtfulness’ in leadership is severely underrated. However, gaining the prerequisite knowledge to give a decision credibility is important. Whilst still ultimately a risk, it is a more educated one, and one that affords respect to all stakeholders involved.

8. Authenticity - “Truth and authenticity breed respect and trust.”

I personally believe this is one of the most important leadership traits. Be the example you want others to live by. Being a leader that isn’t afraid to show your authenticity and vulnerability, and take responsibility when you make a mistake will attract the respect and inspiration of those around you.

9. The Relentless Pursuit Of Perfection - “a refusal to accept mediocrity”

This is not about strict perfectionism per se. Rather it is about striving to produce consistent high quality work at all times. If you see a way to make something better, then do it. You should always be in the business of making things great.

10. Integrity - “The secret leadership weapon”

Being confident in who you are and what you stand for, setting clear boundaries for what is right or wrong, and implementing these through a strong ethical approach will define the quality and integrity of your organisation as a whole. This plays an important part of Iger’s leadership style, as much of his early life experiences shaped the man he is today.

These are Bob Iger’s leadership tactics and strategies that ultimately lead to him being the CEO of Disney. In his words " The way you do anything is the way you do everything," and I agree that these principles will make or break your company depending on how you take on the challenge of applying these tips.

A number of Iger’s tips resonate with my coaching style and how I like to enable greater confidence, communication and leadership within my clients. In particular, the traits of optimism, courage, focus, curiosity, and authenticity.

As a certified leadership and communications coach and trained psychologist, my expertise goes beyond helping people with their communication struggles. I help people get to the core of their communication setbacks, which often includes mindset and confidence struggles. The result is not only are they able to communicate more effectively, but they are able to grow into the leader they were born to be. If you are interested in learning more about my leadership and communication strategies, I invite you to book in for a free Discovery Call where I guarantee I will get to the core of your communication setbacks, and provide you with an action plan to move forward, so that you can finally reach your full potential.

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