Common sense leadership,
This review is from: Creating Magic: 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies from a Life at Disney (Paperback)
This is both the story of author Lee Cockerell's career, particularly the Disney phase and the leadership strategies he and others developed for the Disney Institute, a learning and development centre for current and future leaders (initially for Disney employees, but now also for public students).
The first two chapters are real page-turners. I couldn't wait to read the next episode in Cockerell's personal development as a manager and leader. His writing is personal, humble and most importantly, illuminating. The stories of the mistakes he made as a manager and how he developed strategies to avoid them in the future, would be particularly useful for any new or even experienced manager.
The following three quotes in the early part of the book stood out for me. They perhaps best illustrate Cockerell's thoughts on leadership and provide a flavour of Cockerell's philosophy:
"No one ever explained to me the difference between managing and leading. I wish someone had; it would have spared me a lot of anguish."
"Despite the amazing variety of human beings out there, all everyone wants is to feel special, to be treated with respect, and to be seen as an individual."
" . . . managerial skills are absolutely essential for getting results, but they are not enough to drive excellence. Excellence requires common sense leadership."
The remainder of the book goes on to outline the 10 leadership strategies on which the Disney Institute learning is based and which presumably, Disney managers apply.
So, the book is in two parts - personal story-telling and advocating the best way to lead.
I found the second part much slower than the first. Each chapter starts with an explanation of one of the 10 strategies and proceeds through a list of practical suggestions for implementing the strategy. For the most part, there are plenty of examples to illustrate. However, as with any book that has "7 habits ...", "10 steps to ...", "101 ways to ..." one has to be in the appropriate state of readiness to appreciate and/or apply these. I can see why the book is used extensively as a resource and study text at the Disney Institute.
Overall, I liked this book for two reasons. Firstly, it is practical with plenty of real life examples to illustrate the "how to" (or "how not to"). Secondly, it is written by someone who has spent his entire work life managing, not by a so called management guru. It was a shame therefore that for me, this credibility was tarnished just a little by the blatant ad for the Disney Institute in the last couple of pages - I was already sold!
I'd recommend this book for new and not so new managers to use as both a personal motivator and a "how to" develop essential leadership skills. Should you buy the book as a learning tool, my suggestion would be to read the first couple of chapters straight away, then focus on one of the 10 leadership strategies, each spread over an extended period.
Bob Selden, author What To Do When You Become The Boss: How New Managers Become Successful Managers
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