Gary McCormick, director of partnership development at HGTV, delivered the keynote address to the attendees of the 2013 PRSSA Leadership Rally. What profound advice did he share to the budding leaders of the conference? Learn from Disney characters.
All those characters that we loved when we were using VCRs instead of Netflix — they are our inspiration for leadership. Here’s how:
Cinderella: Although she was an extremely hard worker, the blonde princess didn’t have good fortune or even get noticed until she found her fairy godmother. By having a mentor, you’ll find yourself going further than you ever could have alone.
Snow White: If there were any Disney character to hold the title as “team builder,” it would be the one that lived with seven vastly different people. Snow White surrounded herself with people who had diverse skills and backgrounds to create a magical world everyone flourished in. Apply this, and your team will go from being Grumpy to Happy.
Woody: As for the beloved cowboy from your childhood? Don’t be like him. Don’t be jealous of those around you and devious. Instead, wish good fortune and encouragement for those who follow you.
Buzz Lightyear: While this spaceman may have been oblivious to what his actual skillset was, he never lost faith in himself. Always believe in yourself, and you’ll fly to infinity and beyond.
Pinocchio: Who would have thought this puppet was a bad influence? But McCormick warned that by surrounding yourself only with “fun” people, you’ll be cheating yourself. Instead, befriend those who are just as interested in succeeding as you are. And, of course, don’t tell lies.
Ariel: The redheaded princess from the sea embraced diversity like no other. And while she was an agent for change, she often forgot to think of the consequences for her action. Don’t do that, or you may end up without a voice.
Belle: This beauty showed empathy and saw people for who they truly were. Always recognize the innate skills of those around her and encourage them.
While you can always stand to learn from these characters, McCormick also shared his personal list of things he wished all leaders knew:
1. Others don’t share your passion, that’s why you’re leading.
2. Politics may get you in, but they won’t help you lead.
3. Every volunteer is different with unique qualities — help them find their path
4. Find your replacement and mentor them. Then get out of the way and let them have their turn.
5. Followers select their leaders; leaders don’t select their followers.
So, which Disney character are you most like? And which can you stand to learn from?