5 Qualities Every Leader Should Have, According to Walt Disney

The story of Walt Disney’s rags-to-riches success is one that’s told around the world. His impact is nothing short of incredible: theme parks, movies, TV shows, books, the list goes on. It’s impossible to escape the Disney brand, no matter where you are on the globe. According to the man himself, he got to where he was with just 5 simple traits. If you master the following, you may one day see your name followed by “legend.”

“Every man is captain of his career and there must be cooperation all around if he is to get what he wants out of life.”Walt Disney, pioneer of the American animation industry

1. Strive to Make People Happy

What solution does your product create? Walt’s vision was always clear: “My business is making people…happy.” What is your business? Is it to solve boredom at the airport? Then you’re making people happy. Is it to help people lose weight? Then your goal is to make people happy. Lead with that, and your success will follow.


2. Work on Your Relationships

Walt Disney’s reputation is defined by being warm and welcoming, like a loving family member. A large reason behind this was his effort in maintaining and strengthening the relationships not only within his company, but with his customers. He valued their opinions, listened to their feedback, and strategized. Making people happy was his business, so keeping his workers happy was essential.

3. Push Your Product

Walt could’ve just led an animation studio, and his legacy would have still been strong. He also could’ve just made films, and even still we would recognize him today as a great business man. Because Walt pushed the bar and kept digging, the Disney brand is ubiquitous. Don’t just give the bare minimum, push yourself – what else can your airport boredom product do? How else can you help people lose weight? By asking these kind of questions, you’ll pave the way for innovation.

“Everyone needs deadlines. If we didn’t have deadlines, we’d stagnate.”Walt Disney, pioneer of the American animation industry

4. Emphasize Fun, Always

Walt strove to create a fun and friendly workplace not only at the studios, but at the theme parks. For example, all Disney employees are referred to as, “Cast Members” creating a fun environment that makes any role from the Disneyland janitor to the studio exec to become part of the same team. Every Disney employee works to create magic enjoyed by their customers worldwide.

“You can dream, create, design, and build the most wonderful place in the world… but it requires people to make the dream a reality.”Walt Disney, pioneer of the American animation industry

5. Study Up on Your Stuff

Before a big meeting, Walt would always sketch out his ideas through drawings and even three-dimensional mock-ups of the product or idea he wanted to convey. “Winging it” wasn’t in Walt’s vocabulary, and you can tell. Follow Walt’s lead by taking every measure possible before entering a meeting so that you’re always strong in your leadership. With that practice, true success like Walt’s may soon be in your grasp.