In the book Disney War, an anecdote is recalled wherein then-CEO Michael Eisner says that it’s not the job of Disney to make statements, history, or art, but simply to make money, and that to do so, they may inadvertently contribute to culture in the process.
However successful (and controversial) as Eisner’s tenure at Disney may have been, there’s something incredibly cynical and inaccurate of that mode of thinking. After all, great businesses such as Disney do indeed inspire culture – in the world and within their companies. Disney is famous for attempting to cultivate what it considers a cheerful, positive, “Disney-brand” corporate culture. Whether you want to model that or go for something less Snow White and Sleeping Beauty and more Silicon Valley, as the leader, you’re the one who starts and maintains company culture.
Lead by Example
The most famous exemplar of this is that age-old adage of leading by example. We see plenty enchanted and animal kingdoms go to wrack and ruin in Disney films under the rule of rulers who set a bad example until the good, virtuous hero wins the day and restores peace and prosperity. That’s a simple, fairy tale view of morality, but when it comes to establishing a corporate culture, there’s more than a pinch of pixie dust to it. Like fairy tales and Disney heroes of old, your morals and attitude serve as an example for your workplace culture.
Another staple of Disney villainy? A lack of empathy. One of the quickest ways to sour company culture is to come off as a petty Disney-worthy tyrant who doesn’t care about their workers. On the contrary, like Disney heroes, you want to appear as though you care about everyone “big and small.”
Share the Battle
Another mark of Disney-brand villainy? Detachment. Treating coworkers as “underlings” and being detached from goings-on is a sure way to lose a kingdom or business. On the other hand, sharing the struggle and showing you’re one of the team reinforces the “teamwork” idea more than a thousand dull “inspirational” team-building speeches can.
Lead your company to Happily Ever After with these company culture-changing tips.