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Lead Like Walt | Leadership Lessons from Walt Disney for Busy Healthcare Professionals

On my reading list this month was Lead Like Walt written by Pat Williams, and I absolutely loved it!

The book is packed full of leadership lessons and walks us through 7 key leadership traits that all great leaders must possess: Vision, Communication, People Skills, Character, Competence, Boldness, and A Serving Heart.

What lessons can healthcare professionals take from one of the world’s most influential leaders?

Here are my top 4.

1.    A simple Vision

Walt Disney died in 1966 and the doors to Disney Land opened in 1971. This is an amazing testament to how strong Walt’s vision was, and how well he articulated it and managed to bring people on board as initially, no one thought this was a good idea.

He acted out the vision. He told stories. He was resolute and made models to turn his thoughts into something tangible.

It didn’t matter that; there was no initial finance, the park was a huge diversification from the motion picture business, or that no one in the organisation had the experience of building or running a theme park.

Walt wanted to create a place where both children and adults could have fun together and he wanted a park that was clean.

2.    Don’t Pigeonhole People

In order to bring Walt’s vision to life, he needed a team. He needed to inspire, motivate and encourage others.

One of the many strengths Walt possessed was the ability to assemble dream teams. Walt matched and paired contrasting skill- sets, personalities, and working styles - always hoping that something amazing would emerge from the meeting of opposites, and this approach rarely failed him.

He also gave people a chance even when they had no track record in delivering a project they were tasked with.

Facilitate people to work collaboratively and allow different ideas and perspectives to build upon each other.

Also, when developing a new project and you don’t have the capacity and expertise available to you, buy it in or call in a few favours. Where there’s a will, there is a way if you want it bad enough.

3.    Know your role

When Walt described his role, he said he was like a bee going from one area of the studio to another gathering pollen and stimulating others.

Walt also inspired confidence and allowed others to take the lead - but he knew what he wanted and never strayed from his vision.  

4.    Find people you trust 

Roy was Walt’s brother and righthand man. Walt had the vision and Rob was the money man.

They didn’t always agree and continuously tested and tried each other. The brothers were two strong individuals with different but complementary skill sets.

Leadership Lesson: Leading is hard and having the ear of someone else who knows your strengths and weakness, your personality and someone whom you cannot hide from is immensely valuable. Someone you trust, who you can be honest with, can take critic from and someone who will push you can only make you better.

This may be a coach, mentor or business partner. 

I absolutely love this book and I hope you do too. Once you when read this, please share with me what your key takeaways were.

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