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How Disney Leads In Tough Times

October 03, 2013 by Bruce Jones, Programming Director, Disney Institute

We have known for years that pay alone does not ensure performance, regardless of an employees level of responsibility within an organization. A recent article from CBC News supports that sentiment citing a report that found that, since the 2008 financial crisis, 40 percent of the highest-paid CEOs in the U.S. have struggled to provide the type of leadership required to justify salaries that are often performance-based.

Disney leaders are charged with instilling the values of openness and honesty. Their success stems from consistent transparency with their Cast about the decisions they are making, and the "why" behind them.

Rumor is the result of an absence of transparency, and it is one of the greatest enemies of effectiveness and morale in an organization, especially during times of uncertainty. One way Disney leaders combat this enemy is to hold multiple shift meetings throughout the day. This helps ensure that front-line Cast members know our business model, understand our strategies, and realize the importance of their role in our current and future plans.

Of course, this type of communication is not only essential on the front lines; it must start at the top.

In May of 2009, Disney had its second-quarter earnings report. Just moments after its conclusion, Bob sent an e-mail to every one of our more than 60,000 Disney Cast Members explaining the second-quarter results, but it did something more than just explain the report.

Bob explained plans for upcoming products, a significant new acquisition, and how he expected the strategy to positively impact the company. Bobs explanation of the company’s strategy conveyed a plan to not simply emerge from the recession, but to come roaring back out of it. You couldn’t read Bob’s perspective and not be excited to come to work the next day.

Remember, leaders are telling a story about what they value based on their actions. What story is being told about you?

Image: Flickr User Ayolt de Roos



Posted in Leadership Excellence | Tagged Football, Leadership, Leadership Skills, Leadership Team, Leadership Styles, Leadership Models, Effective Management, Bruce Jones | 2 Comments


2 Responses to How Disney Leads In Tough Times

  • Michelle says:

    on October 11, 2013

    If it isn't proprietary, I would like to read Bob's email and perspective that inspired others to want to come back to work the next day. Thanks! m.


  • Bruce says:

    on October 15, 2013

    Hi Michelle - since this email was meant for internal use, we would not be able to share it. You might find some of the information posted on our investor pages interesting. Go to http://thewaltdisneycompany.com/investors for some insights I always find interesting. Thanks!


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