Name: Walter Elias Disney
Date of Birth: 5th December 1901
Organization: Walt Disney Cooperation
Education: McKinley High School; Chicago Art Institute
"You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality."Walt Disney
Walter Elias Disney aka Walt Disney, creator of Mickey Mouse and founder of the Walt Disney Corporation, was born on December 5, 1901, in Chicago, Illinois. Since young, he was interested in art and would sell his drawings to his neighbours to make extra money. He studied art and photography at McKinley High School; at night, he took courses at the Chicago Art Institute so as to pursue his art career. After he was rejected by the army, Disney left for France. He drove an ambulance and chauffeured Red Cross officials for a year over there before returning.
Once he returned, he decided to pursue a commercial art career, which lead to his experiments in animation. He produced short animated films for local businesses in Kansas City. Nevertheless, Walt ran out of money when he started creating The Alice Comedies; his company Laugh-O-Grams went bankrupted. Rather than giving up, Walt headed for Hollywood to start a new business and at that time he was even twenty-two. Together with his brother, their wives and partner, Iwerks, produced three cartoons featuring Walt’s Mickey Mouse in the year 1928, which brought him to huge success in the animation industry. He continued producing films and characters and in the year 1955, he accomplished one of his dream by opening the $17 million Disneyland. Walt’s 43-years of success was because he carried his vision and mission with him and over into other areas of cooperation.
A successful leader needs to have followers. In order to do so, Walt Disney was said to have possessed many leadership styles. In 1936, Disney built his enterprise in Los Angeles, CA and select 700 highly skilled artistic employees. Not only that, striving to produce the best work, he went around the country seeking for artists to come work for him. He offered to subside for their education to perfect their skills whereby helping others is a consistent trait of an effective leader. He drew people in with his charismatic charm and family-like work environment. For instance, in return for the excellent job done, he invited his employees to his house for barbecue on Sundays. This instills trust and a sense of caring in the employees. In addition, Walt Disney requested for his employees to address him as “Walt” or “Uncle Walt” which made them feel welcome and warmth. His friendliness and family-like relationships with his employees built faith and confidence in Disney and its vision and his employees were glad to work long hours without any salary as they believed in what they were doing. Additionally, Walt understood and was able to accept the process of change. Change is unavoidable in any circumstances. One need to learn to embrace it and use it as an improvement opportunity and not to say, Walt knew that and he was always a step in front of change.
Yet, after Walt moved into his new studio, he changed. He became more demanding and controlling, where he exercised an autocratic leadership style. If he did not like what the employees do or say, he would fire them immediately. Nonetheless, he would still asked for employees’ ideas or input through employees’ survey which made him a participative leader. Lastly, coherence is possibly the strongest leadership capacity that Disney possessed. He constantly brought things together to encourage conversation. Walt knew how to prioritize and focus his work due to his moral purpose. He demonstrated all of the criteria needed for a true leader.
Above are a few examples of what Walt Disney had done as a leader. He did more to touch the hearts, minds, and emotions of millions people than any other man in the past century. Through his work, he brought joy, happiness and a universal means of communication to the people of every nation. Based upon the ideas which his name represents: imagination, optimism and self-made success, Walt is undeniably a legend and a folk hero of the 20th century.
Credits to: Tyler Goh
Here is the list of awards that Disney have won over the years:
For more information of Disney productions,
Thomas, B. (1966). Walt Disney: Magician of the movies. New York, NY: Grosset & Dunlap.