Bob Iger: A Transformational Leader
A leader that I admire immensely prioritizes the cultivation of creative thinking, inspires and empowers his team members, and stands as a true visionary. Transformational leadership holds immense importance that includes charisma, vision, and the ability to motivate the organization. One leader who exemplifies this style is Disney CEO Bob Iger. The accomplishments under his leadership have propelled Disney to become the world's foremost digital and entertainment company today.
Bob Iger emphasizes collaboration, innovation, and creativity within Disney’s workplace culture. In a recent interview with TIME, Bob Iger shared that if you study great brands and “you try to figure out why some companies stand the test of time and remain relevant,” you quickly conclude that most companies that fade away “fade away because they’ve abandoned the core values of what created the company.” They distance themselves from “the very essence of what they were when they began.” In his book "The Ride of a Lifetime," Bob Iger's profound passion for the company becomes evident. His relentless pursuit of innovation has pushed the boundaries of the entertainment industry, as demonstrated by his remarkable ability to persuade influential leaders like former Apple CEO Steve Jobs to sell Pixar. Bob Iger recognizes the necessity of fostering a culture of exceptional performance across Disney's diverse media platforms.
Under Iger’s leadership, Disney has delivered high-quality experiences in theme parks, movies, and consumer products. Iger’s focus on storytelling and attention to detail ensures that Disney’s offerings resonate with audiences, resulting in increased customer loyalty and consistent positive experiences. Despite not being a positive experience for the Graves family, Bob Iger’s response to dealing with an alligator attack in Florida particularly stood out to me. The Graves family was visiting Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa when a 2-year-old boy was fatally attacked and dragged into the lagoon by an alligator. Moments after this broke, Bob Iger immediately called the family personally despite him being miles across the globe about to open the Disneyland resort in Shanghai. His genuine effort to connect with them personally and speak directly to the family exemplifies his immense care and concern. Transformational leaders navigate through hardships and through this experience, Bob managed to support them in a humane capacity.
Bob Iger’s strategic division and acquisition played a pivotal role in Disney’s financial success during his tenure. Bob Iger has leveraged all divisions within the Walt Disney Company. Through multiple acquisitions, Iger has established the company to be at the forefront of innovation. From acquiring Pixar and turning it into the animation powerhouse that exemplifies Oscar pictures to the ongoing Marvel cinematic universe that caters to all superhero junkies - Bob Iger has been able to target all audiences by producing blockbuster hits each year. There is no doubt Disney has been the golden standard for other studios to follow. Iger’s choice of laying the cards on the table during his last acquisition with 20th-century Fox was very intriguing. Wheeler explains, "by laying your cards on the table, you can expand the pie by making mutually beneficial traders.” Bob Iger paid close attention to NCBUniversal’s negotiation with 20th Century Fox before ultimately pulling the trigger and sealing the deal. What made Iger a much stronger candidate was his skill of truthful, upfront negotiations.
Recently, Bob Iger has shown diligence against the Don’t Say Gay Act in Florida with Governor Ron DeSantis. Before Iger’s return to the Walt Disney Company, prior CEO Bob Chapek shook some feathers in the LGBTQ+ community. Chapek’s lack of support turned many employees against his leadership and he lost their respect. Ron DeSantis did not agree with the stand the Disney company was taking after Bob Iger’s support with the LGTBQ+ community, making it difficult for Iger to continue his $1 Billion plan to expand its operations in Florida. As Iger has mentioned, “The core values of [Disney’s] storytelling are inclusion and acceptance and tolerance and we can’t lose that.” Additionally, Bob Iger has focused on diversity and inclusion. His efforts have helped the Walt Disney Company in promoting representation on screen and in Disney’s workforce. Recently we have seen multiple projects, including the major success of Black Panther and COCO recognized deeply among minority groups. As “leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality,” Bob Iger has managed to disrupt the entertainment business both financially and socially.
Considering the profound changes in the digital space, Bob Iger is an exemplary transformational leader that has been available to constantly reinvent the Walt Disney Company. Through multiple acquisition deals, Bob Iger has not only been able to cultivate a diverse workforce but has also been able to successfully retain the best employees for the organization. His emphasis on collaboration, customer satisfaction, and strategic decision-making has enabled Disney to create a significant impact in the digital and entertainment industry