Talking Point: The Disney Institute Blog

Leadership Lessons from Walt Disney: Never Stop Asking Questions

January 12, 2018 by Jeff James, Vice President & General Manager, Disney Institute

Walt Disney once said, “Ideas come from curiosity.” He believed that great leaders should never stop questioning. They should ask, “Why?” and then “Why not?” 

He also said, "I happen to be kind of an inquisitive guy, and when I see things I don’t like, I start thinking, ‘Why do they have to be like this and how can I improve them?’" No doubt, it was Walt’s curiosity that drove his passion for continuous improvement.

At Disney, we continue to find tremendous value and inspiration in the legacy left by our founder, Walt Disney. Even today, the legacy of Walt Disney lives on in the stories we tell, and in our values and approach.

But, beyond our company, many of Walt’s timeless leadership lessons can inspire other business leaders too, providing them with insight that can easily be adapted and applied to their own careers, organizations and industries.

At Disney Institute, our team works with business leaders all over the world to help them make a positive impact on their organizations and drive future success. One of the key insights we often teach is—the best legacy is not one that is fondly remembered, but one that is actively emulated. Of course, this insight was inspired by Walt Disney!

Following Walt’s legacy, Walt Disney Imagineering encourages us all to regain curiosity in the workplace. To spark new ideas “The Imagineering Workout” book (authored by the Walt Disney Imagineers) suggests:

  • Get an attitude! Get confident: When questions are asked confidently, they come across as requests for verification. If you don’t feel confident, stand up straight, speak up, and act that way!
  • Do your own research: Never believe people who tell you not to bother because they’ve tried something already. They may be right, but in finding out for yourself, you may be inspired or learn something.
  • Relax, live, and absorb! Creative people never stop being curious and don’t have a nine-to-five attitude. Instead, if they find something that improves them, they fit it into their lives.

If curiosity is a vital component of leadership excellence, then we as leaders must continue to embrace it to foster new ideas, inspire creativity and drive innovation in our organizations.

Think about it…How can you be more curious in your daily routine? When was the last time you asked, “Why?” and then “Why not?”

If you would like to learn more about values-infused leadership, check out our Disney’s Approach to Leadership Excellence professional development training course. Or, bring our Disney Institute team to yours to for a full cultural transformation through a private initiative for your organization.

Until then…Keep learning. Keep improving. Keep aspiring higher!


Disney Institute is ready to help you apply strategic rigor to your customer experience efforts - call us at 321.939.4600 or complete our Contact Form

Posted in Business Excellence | Tagged Creativity, Innovation, Leadership, Leadership Training, Leadership Skills, Leadership Excellence, Walt Disney, Leadership Lessons From Walt Disney, Jeff James

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