After 15 years at the helm of Disney, Bob Iger, the company's 6th CEO in the firm's 100-year history, stepped down and passed the mantel to a three-decade veteran, Bob Chapek. Whether Chapek's appointment was the correct move remains to be seen.
What can't be overlooked, however, is Iger's legacy as CEO. When he took the reins, Disney was floundering somewhat. There was a sense they had lost their way creatively, attendance at their global parks was down, and they were on their way to becoming another unimpressive corporate behemoth.
After a decade and a half under the guidance of Iger, they're in a better position financially and creatively than any other period of their existence.
Here are three lessons you can learn from Bob Iger's time in charge:
1. Create a resolute focus on your outcomes.
In his memoir, The Ride of a Lifetime, released last year, Iger set out his core strategy for revitalizing fortunes at Disney. Specifically, he wanted to:
- "Increase the amount of high-quality branded content, we created."
- "Advance technologically, both in our ability to create more compelling products and to deliver those products to consumers."
- "Grow globally."
What I like about these three strategic pillars are that they are specific enough to be measurable, yet broad enough to allow for flexibility in the decision-making process.
As we're coming to the end of the month, now is a good time to review your current strategic pillars. Ensure you have 3 and no more than 5 overarching goals for your organization and that they're clear, concise and compelling.
2. Execute like crazy.
One of the fundamental tenets for Bob Iger was to move from strategy to execution. Whether it was the more than 40 trips he took to Shanghai during the planning of the $6 billion Disneyland Shanghai or the acquisition of some of the most compelling content producers in Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm, Iger knew it wasn't enough to set goals. He had a ruthless focus on execution and implementation. He set lofty strategic objectives and took bold moves to get there.
Once you have agreement on your key strategic pillars, you need to build in time to implement. In most organizations running a 90-day sprint focused on execution is long enough to make progress but not too long that you lose sight of the overarching goal.
3. Invest in the people around you.
In a New York Times article last year, Iger was referred to as operating within a "cult of nice." His interpersonal interactions with people both inside the company and outside reflect a lack of ego. That was most apparent in his desire to ensure that customers and staff at Disney were treated fairly and with respect.
For each of the acquisitions, he spent time ensuring that the people who were integrating into Disney knew they were valued and appreciated, as that is where the success or failure on the mergers lies. He did this predominantly by promoting the culture of curiosity and optimism in Disney to new employees and encouraged them to embrace the excitement of change rather than worry about it.
Even with a ruthless focus on execution, it's crucial to view your people as your most valuable asset and to develop them accordingly. Ultimately, they are the ones who will build your legacy.
Last year Disney produced four $1 billion movies; it launched Disney +, its streaming platform, opened a slew of popular new attractions at its parks across the world, and launched Baby Yoda into the stratosphere.
It's clear that as he transitions from CEO to Chairman, Bob Iger has made a profound impact on the future trajectory of Disney.