April 10, 2012 by Jeff James, Vice President & General Manager, Disney Institute
Bob Iger was not the “odds on favorite” to succeed Michael Eisner as the next CEO of The Walt Disney Company. In fact, he once had a boss tell him that he “wasn’t promotable.” Perhaps this is one reason he lists optimism as an attribute leaders must possess. “You can’t be a pessimist,” Iger says. “When you come to work, you’ve got to show enthusiasm and spirit. You can’t let people see you brought down by the experience of failure. You don’t have that luxury.”
Instead, he believes that big risks must be taken, but with a creative stance. “If you fail, don’t do it with mediocrity - do it with something that was truly original, truly a risk.” One such risk was reversing the company’s view of technology. What was once viewed as a risk transformed into an opportunity which Iger embraced and grew. Although, if he had failed, many doubt he would have been discouraged, and if he was, you certainly would not have been able to see it.