Invest in You: Leadership & “Earning Our Ears”

This past March I had the opportunity to attend the ACC Excellence Summit featuring Disney Institute. This three day leadership training course was informative and really helped clarify my next steps for my journey as a company owner and leader. Over the course of the summit, we covered leadership, employee engagement, and quality service – all topics we “think we know lots about”. However, when you learn about it first-hand from a Disney perspective, it teaches you an entirely new approach.

Disney strategically focuses on everything they do, and the training facilitators from Disney Institute teach and talk about these details in an insightful, but also collaborative way.

Disney’s Approach to Leadership Excellence
Our first day, which focused on leadership, was all about discovering your leadership skills and learning how to implement them across all the areas of the business that you touch. They also emphasized that they empower every person employed by Disney to be a leader within their role.

For example, back in the 1930s Walt Disney brought the idea of a full-length animated feature film to his team of animators. This would be a change from the average 8-minute long shorts Disney studios had become famous for. Rather than just employ executive authority and hand down instructions to his team of animators to create the film, he engaged them to imagine how they could captivate their audiences in a whole new way. He famously presented his idea to the team by acting out the story scene-by-scene – even using different voices and singing songs – to help them understand that yes, this would require significantly more of their time, effort, and energy than projects to date. However, he also helped them feel the emotions that he hoped to deliver to audiences. The result? The team felt involved in the decision to launch the project, and the result would be nothing short of magical. ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ was Disney’s first full-length animated feature film, released in 1938.

Key takeaway: Don’t just tell your team – lead them.

Back to Business
I took this learning to heart and looked at how I could truly lead my team, rather than simply telling, towards a shared vision. The advantage of our small-but-mighty team is that it didn’t take long to get us all in a room to talk about our strategic direction, what sorts of projects and clients we wanted to focus on, and the types of leaders we each wanted to be. I put myself in Walt Disney’s shoes and aimed to vividly communicate my vision, as he had done with his team of animators (though there was slightly less acting and singing involved). Now each team member is empowered with the autonomy to lead on their projects and initiatives in order to drive towards our shared vision.


Your Turn to “Earn Your Ears”!
We applied some great learnings from this workshop to our business, and we want to share this opportunity with our network. As “Marketing Superstars” of the 2020 ACC Excellence Summit featuring Disney Institute in Calgary, we get to give away one ticket to Day 1: Leadership Excellence!

To enter, leave a comment below and tell us about a memorable or influential leader in your personal or professional life and be sure to tag “Disney Institute” and “ACC Excellence Summit”.

This is your chance to discover, as Disney Institute says, “the method behind the magic”!


Learn more about Disney’s approach to Leadership Excellence.

Header Image Credit:  © Disney Images 

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