Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Character of Walt Disney

"Crowded classrooms and half-day sessions are a tragic waste of our greatest national resource - the minds of our children" ~ Walt Disney

Walt Disney had a profound effect on the people he worked with. He would often say that his greatest leadership characteristic was in convincing people they could do things far above what they thought they could do. Disney demonstrated a strong moral purpose throughout his life and worked hard to make a difference in the lives of everyone who had interactions with his companies. Walt Disney was a dreamer who never stopped trying out new things, creating new cartoons, and always inspired people to achieve far more than they thought they were able to. As a leader, Disney never stopped innovating and dreaming about new possibilities and he explored those possibilities with a relentless imagination. Disney's first priority was to his family and he would readily admit that his greatest struggle was to balance his work and family, but he never allowed his work to interfere with the important moments in his wife or daughters lives.

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  risks, Disney was always optimistic and had faith in his convictions. Disney was always willing to discuss the many setbacks he suffered in his career and quickly dispelled the rumor that he just thought of creating Mickey Mouse one day and became an overnight success. Disney would refer to his willingness and courage to take risks and never settle for status-quo as his main ingredient for building the Disney Empire.

Walt Disney took pride in his employees and worked hard to maintain a high level of respect for each and everyone of them. Disney was optimistic and always perservered and knew how to spread his enthusiasm of his work to his employees which allowed them to flourish in their positions within his company. With all of his immense leadership qualities, coherence stands out as his supreme strength. With his name being synonymous with quality family entertainment, Disney was a pioneer in animated short films, was the first producer to add sound to a short animation, was the first to produce animation in color, and the first to produce a full length animation film. He progressed to live action movies, nature films, and pioneered children's programming on television. Nearly fifty years after his death, the ripple effects of Disney's leadershop still remains immeasurable.


Schickel, R. (1997). The disney version: The life, times, art, and commerce of walt disney.
       Chicago: Simon & Schuster.


  1. Walt Disney was certainly a man of great talent, vision, and integrity. His first true priority was his devotion to his wife and children. Dedication to family is the trait I found most alluring and respectful in Mike Krzyzewski. His wife and children have always been his top priority. His wife is his main confidant and always has been. So often family is taken for granted. So often with celebrity comes dysfunction. Walt Disney and Mike Krzyzewski reveal a great deal of integrity in holding to their core beliefs of the importance of family.

    An admirable leadership quality shared by both men is the tremendous respect and trust they exhibit toward their employees. Coach K empowers his assistant coaches to make decisions and share in every aspect of coaching. Empowering staff reveals his confidence with his staff, and more importantly with himself. Cleary, Walt Disney took a profound interest in his employees; he showed them that he believed in them and they thrived because of it.

    A third quality recognizable in both Disney and Krzyzewski is their continuous dedication to improvement. Neither was comfortable with the status quo. I often think of the quote, “It is easier to get to number one than it is to stay there.” I have no idea who said it, but it is a very appropriate quote befitting to the world of sports. But this saying is also apropos to any individual who has achieved a great deal – like Walt Disney.

  2. To say Walt Disney was a visionary is a huge understatement. Yet what people do not realize is that through his vision, he brought everyone he worked with together and made them better collectively than they were as individuals. He communicated this vision and made people believe. Belief is a huge consideration and one that involves letting people know that they are trusted and that the leader believes in them.

    As he grew his business and his legacy it would have been easy to stay with the status quo. He understood change and understood that the environment would continually change and if he did not change with the environment he would eventually fail. This is critical as it is easy for everyone to become comfortable and this is when true leadership begins. Very interesting leader and discussion of his qualities!

  3. One of the qualities you pointed out in Walt Disney was his optimism. This is important for a leader to possess since he must believe that the goals he is trying to achieve are going to be attained and will serve a purpose for the greater good.

    Walt Disney's vision has lived on in his memory through the loyalty and dedication of employees at the Disney Corporation. All that he started when he was alive is still functioning and has seen unimaginable success. He was a good role model for his employees in that he did not let his work interfere with his personal life. He was centered in family values which were evident in the type of work he did - creating family theme parks and movies.

  4. Walt Disney is an amazing part of our pop culture's history. His ability to take risks and to be the first at many accomplishments have helped him to leave his mark on our society.
    Walt Disney's ability to create a balance between his family life and work was very admirable. This talent prooves that he was focused and was strategic. Alice Paul, unlike Disney, was not balanced. She chose her cause over a famliy and a personal life. She was criticized for this. However, like Disney, she was still a successful leader.
    Fifty years after his death, the legacy of Walt Disney is still thriving and is growing. His work is to be admired by all.