My friends know how invested I am in my career, and the joy I get from working in the business sector. I have more business books in my library than fiction and literature put together.
I have always been fascinated with the different leadership styles and qualities displayed by the C-Suites. I have read books on leadership and today I want to share a few gold nuggets I got from Bob Iger the former CEO of Disney. His book ‘The Ride of A lifetime’ is a very raw, honest, and interesting telling of his journey from a studio supervisor for ABC Television to CEO of Disney. If you want to know more about him and what leadership with honesty and integrity looks like, you should read this book.
Without further beating around the bush, here’s what Bob Iger taught me about leadership:
- Excellence and kindness don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
- Genuine decency and professional competitiveness aren’t mutually exclusive.
- Bet on brains.
- All deals are personal.
- Take responsibility when you screw up.
- Wherever you are along the path, be the same person you’ve always been.
Excellence and kindness don’t have to be mutually exclusive
In our careers, we strive to give our best. We want our work, projects, and assignments to be perfect. Now, striving for perfection is good, but always ensure that in striving for perfection you don’t neglect the needs of the people around you. People are the backbone of any organisation and you should always be kind and decent to the ones that work for you.
Genuine decency and professional competitiveness aren’t mutually exclusive
In business, it is important to treat people fairly and practice empathy. It is about creating an environment where you as a leader are emotionally consistent, fair, and just. When you are able to do this for your people, they will respect you, the culture is built, and they will want to strive for excellence for you and the organisation.
Bet on brains
Truly capable leaders understand that they do not have all the answers and they are not the smartest person in the room. Instead, they are humble enough to acknowledge this fact and hire people that are smarter and better than them. In your career of hiring, always value a person’s ability more than their experience. Don’t shy away from giving stretch assignments because sometimes it takes a good leader to see the potential people may not see in themselves. Remember, you are betting on the potential of a person to be great.
All deals are personal
In business, we tend to want to take the personal element out of the equation. However, it is important to understand that because deals involve individuals, they will always have a personal element. People are often afraid to roll over and show their belly in a negotiation or deal. However, be open to showing your hand at times to lower everyone's guard. Understand that every deal is an emotional one and there is no such thing as 100% professional detachment, especially when something is at stake for the other party.
Take responsibility when you screw up
This might be my favourite takeaway from Bob’s book. A lot of leaders say this but when push comes to shove, they blame a fall guy. In contrast, Bob clearly states that people respect and trust you more when you are willing to take responsibility for a mistake. Acknowledge them, learn from them, set an example that it is fine when things go wrong, and your people will be more excited to work with you and be part of your organization.
Wherever you are along the path, be the same person you’ve always been
This is the best last message to end with. As you climb the corporate ladder or start gaining success, the world will be validating your accomplishments and power. Don’t let it get to your head and ensure you have the right anchors to keep you grounded. The moment you start believing the hype, you have lost yourself and that is just a slow path toward destruction. Always stay humble and remember how it was before all the glitz and glam.
Supplementary readings for you:
So, there you have it, these were the 6 main takeaways from Bob Iger’s book. He shares many more lessons in his book, and I think anyone that needs a little motivation in trying to build their career should read this book. If you have read this book and have learnt something, please feel free to share! Also, I would love to know your take on what I have shared here with you.
Check out this Leaderonomics video (from Be a Leader Series) - another nugget on how action and reflection keeps productivity high.