Walt Disney-Transformational Leader

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Biographical facts: placing emphasis on crucial experiences, episodes, pre-occupations and challenges that created turning points in advancing the subject’s leadership role. Leadership Capacities

Walt Disney was a leader who exemplified many leadership capacities throughout his 43-year Hollywood career. He demonstrated a strong moral purpose and worked hard to make a difference in the lives of everyone who had interactions with Walt Disney Productions. His moral convictions were instilled in him by his parents at a young age. Walt was always striving to make people happy. His first priority was always to his family. Although he struggled to balance work and family at times, he was always there for his wife and daughters. Walt also had a strong commitment to his employees. He knew each person by name and insisted that everyone call him Walt. Throughout his life, and since his death, Walt Disney did more to touch the hearts and minds of millions of Americans than any other person in the past century. Walt Disney understood and embraced the process of change. He knew that in order to continue to progress and find success, he needed to be one step ahead of change. This was evident through his willingness to take chances on innovative technologies as they developed in his field. When others expressed concern over perceived risks, Walt was always optimistic and had faith in his convictions. Walt worked hard to build relationships, especially with his employees. He wanted his employees to be happy and he worked closely with everyone in his company. One of the best examples of his willingness to develop relationships is evidenced by his eagerness to help his employees learn more about animation. Walt offered the chance for his employees to attend art school, at his expense. Many of his animators took advantage of Walt’s offer, and as a result, their work improved greatly. They were enthusiastic about this opportunity and were grateful to Walt for taking an interest in their futures. Walt always shared his ideas and concerns with his employees. He believed that the company would work best in an environment where a company worked together in all aspects of the business. Coherence making is possibly the strongest leadership capacity that Disney possessed. He was constantly able to bring things together to stimulate conversation. Walt knew how to prioritize and focus his work as a result of his moral purpose. He exemplified all of the capacities needed to be considered a true leader. Perhaps the best example of Walt’s leadership is the fact that over forty years after his death, his company has continued to be a pioneer in the field of animation. After Walt died at the age of 65, his brother Roy promised that all of the plans Walt had for the future would continue to move ahead. As stated by Thomas in 1966, Mickey Mouse will continue to endear himself to children everywhere with his lovable antics, Donald Duck will go on delighting them with his squawks and flurry of feathers; and millions of people the world over will, in Walt Disney’s own words, “know he has been alive.” References

Thomas, B. (1966). Walt Disney: Magician of the movies. New York, NY: Grosset & Dunlap.

1. Walt's brothers were so frustrated about their relationship with their dad that they all one by one ran away from home early in their lives. First it was Herb and Ray over a dispute about money they had earned. Later it would be Roy, who at 19 felt treated like a little boy by his father's domineering attitude. Eager to move on himself, Walt himself would lie about his age so he could be an ambulance driver during World War I. Still, despite the dysfunctionality he and his family experienced, Walt Disney became the leader and the voice of family entertainment. Of Disneyland, he would comment how badly he wanted a place where children and parents could enjoy time together. Millions of families come together because of the entertainment Walt Disney and his...
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