Talking Point: The Disney Institute Blog

Finding Great Leaders in Your Organization

April 17, 2014 by Bruce Jones, Senior Programming Director, Disney Institute

A recent post on HBR Blog Network shares that individual contributors sometimes ask themselves, “What will it take for others to recognize my potential?” They may simply want acknowledgement of the importance of the work they do. Or they may aspire to move into management. In some cases, they’ve been told that they’re doing fine and have been advised, “Just keep doing what you are doing.”  Yet they see others being promoted ahead of them.

We might pose some additional important questions: Is your organization proactively and deliberately looking for talented leaders to emerge from within? Does everyone know you are looking? Does everyone know what to do in order to be recognized for his or her potential?

At Disney, we value great leadership and we have observed that, while the typical organization believes that few people are leaders, the values-driven organization believes that most people are leaders. If this is true, then we must provide systems and processes that everyone knows and understands, and can use to create value on a reasonably consistent basis. In this case, these systems and processes should help us seek out and identify a succession of great leaders.

One illustration is a process called the Leadership Casting Call (LCC), which is an internal process for identifying, selecting, and preparing front-line Cast Members who are ready to move into entry-level operations leadership roles at the Walt Disney World Resort. As part of this process, leaders have access to a “Checklist for Identifying Potential Talent.” Take a look again at the checklist in the HBR post and you will likely see some similarities:


  • Works well on a team and with other Cast Members; brings out the best in others
  • Is inclusive of others’ ideas and personalities
  • Responds well to feedback
  • Is able to learn from and listen to others
  • Is willing to teach others


  • Is solution-oriented and creates opportunities out of challenges
  • Able to solve Guest issues and complaints (within their role), proactively seeking out situations where the problem may not be immediately evident
  • Seeks additional responsibilities while excelling at existing assignments

Service-Oriented (Internal and External)

  • Acts responsibly with company property and equipment; works to protect the best interest of the Company
  • Exceeds Guest expectations, understanding that Guest service is a matter of Guest perception and not Cast intent
  • Has positive and outgoing interactions with Guests
  • Is capable of working effectively in a multi-tasked environment
  • Finds themselves leading by example even when not assigned the title or direct responsibility; is someone others choose to follow

We are not proposing to adopt this list, or anyone else’s list exclusively. What we are saying is that you should develop your list – to define the attributes and behaviors of the ideal leader in your organization. Then, communicate to everyone that opportunities for additional responsibilities exist and that these are the behaviors that will get people noticed.

In future posts we’ll examine how to develop leaders quickly by embedding leadership development into the fabric of the organization, rather than confining leadership development to a training initiative.


What are the leadership attributes and behaviors that bring success to your organization?




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Posted in Leadership Excellence | Tagged Leadership, Leadership Excellence, Collaboration, Identifying Leaders, Leadership Development, Organizational Leadership, Leadership Behaviors, Bruce Jones

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