I had the opportunity to talk with Lee Cockerell, former VP of Walt Disney World Operations, and ask him questions for which he had some great answers:
During your tenure at Disney, what was your big takeaway?
You can make a difference
Most good leaders understand that they should always desire to learn more. What leadership principles did you learn while working at Disney?
You need to be a life-long learner. You become irrelevant if you do not. If you don’t keep up you won’t be relevant.
List some leadership principles every leader should know.
Make sure you’re not like the rest. In order to stand out all you have to do is the simple things, which you just don’t see anymore such as have a “can do” attitude, be reliable, be competent, be a good organized manager, become technologically competent, invest in leadership and be a good time manager.
Why is time management so important?
Time management is the ability to execute. Execution is not part of the game—it is the game.
My personal takeaway from Lee is that he’s the real deal. He represents a type of “golden era” in leadership. He takes his own phone calls and he makes time for people–even the perceived unimportant people. Lee is passionate about seeing a new crop of leaders rise up and become all that they can be IF they put the effort into it.
I got the sense that he means business. He’s not afraid to tell it like it is or take risks. One of my follow up questions had to do with risks and he has definitely taken his fair share and as a result has seen the benefits. That’s not to say it hasn’t come from pain, but he plows through those things looking at what’s ahead, which reminds me of the Bible verse, “…Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.” (Philippians 4:13, NLT)
Once again I saw that great leadership is not about fancy ideals, recycled statements or nifty blogs–it’s about people; it’s about executing on ideas, not just coming up with them. Leadership is about the simple things, which we all too often look over because it’s not glamorous. It’s on time meetings, calling when you say you will, looking someone in the eye when you talk to them, returning phone calls, etc. Once these are mastered, you can turn to doing what you do better than anyone else.
Much more was discussed, which I’ll talk about in some upcoming posts. To learn more about Lee Cockerell you can visit leecockerell.com.
Here are some resources that Lee emailed me, which I’m sure will also be a benefit to you: