I was starting some research on executive presence to gain ideas on how I can increase my influence and inspire respect. I found a beautiful definition of influence:
Influence is the art and science of aligning your objectives with another’s
Diving into where this quote came from, different forms of motivation including influence are persuasion, manipulation, and coercion. As the types of motivation ranged from positive to negative the overall goal was to align a person’s objectives with yours. I started to reflect on the many different leaders I have worked for including those that helped to develop my career and others that seemed to strive for pure dictatorship control and empire building. Stepping back from how to be a great leader and influence others I started to think about why be a leader.
Like myself my daughter wants to be a leader. She jumps at opportunities to help organize other people, which comes in handy when I need assistance with getting a dozen young cub scouts in line. She wants to be president someday. Regardless of whether or not she leads our country one day, I want her to be a great leader. But why should she lead, why should I lead?
One reason I want to lead is because it feels great to me and I know I am great at it. My style of preference is to empower others to find the best way to help our team meet the vision. In my past leadership roles I have inspired my team to use their own unique ideas on how to accomplish projects that will meet our goals. I have received great feedback that team members have been more engaged due to my leadership. I have finally reached one of my goals of working for a company that has a goal I can proudly stand behind, to create happiness. I want to inspire action to help create amazing experiences. I want to improve the offerings of my organization to increase the opportunities for the magical moments that can dearly reside in a guests heart forever. Why should you lead?
Oh, how I love my job! It’s not without its quirks, but I look forward to going to work every day. I have had the most amazing experiences so far. Some of my favorite moments has included catching moments of magic being created, such as testing of the lights on Cinderella’s castle, walking through snowfall in the middle of the night at Hollywood Studios, and witnessing the Magic Kingdom switch over from fall to the winter holidays overnight! The one thing that really stands out and makes the biggest impact to me is the passion of the cast members and the commitment to excellence. It’s the Disney level of service that creates a level of awe, even internally, many refer to as Pixie Dust. There are high expectations for this company. The CEO Bob Iger has the vision for Disney to be the Most Admired Company in the World.
Through the many efforts across the company we focus on our four key areas: Safety, Courtesy, Show, and Efficiency. I am honored that I get to be an integral part of safety. While I am still learning about standard safety practices, I am applying my project management skills to support the training of Engineering Services Cast Members with safely executing ride motion protection. It’s driven by a worldwide need to give cast members and employees the comfort that when they come to work at a risky job, they can expect to go home in the same state that they came into work – with all fingers, all toes, and just in general in one healthy solid piece. Disney has many people working to ensure our cast are taken care of.
My team has recently been looking for ways to make training more engaging to take it to the next level by encouraging critical thinking from cast members using gaming methods. We want to add value to the training. Recently, the onboarding experience has been significantly improved through gaming strategies that encourage team work and challenges based on information learned during the onboarding process. It’s the ways that the Disney goes above and beyond even internally to make the cast feel like they are valued that helps make a huge impact. Through efforts like these, the pixie dust spreads.
The imposter complex or feelings of being a fraud in a leadership role apparently occurs in the minds of many female leaders. Studies have shown that women prefer to know their chances of success before making a decision and stepping into a role. In fact when it comes to applying for a job, most women tend to go for positions in which they meet nearly all of the requirements, while men reach for ones in which they meet about half. While we may know we are technically competent and have good intentions, sometimes when we look at where we are, we can feel like we don’t belong.
I love my new role working as a project manager at Disney and I want to do great things. I want to understand the culture and how things work so I can make an impact and make it better. I read about forward thinking leadership and empowering your team to extraordinary performance. I need to change my mindset from I want to be an inspirational leader to I am an inspirational leader! I truly am an inspirational leader, I have been told that before. From the teams that I have led and even my colleagues. At times I feel as if I am not ready, but other times I feel like I could do so much more. At Disney, for me, it is more than just climbing the corporate ladder, although I would like to move to a prominent position. At Disney, my ultimate goal is to be a part of something great, to create amazing experiences, help people make extraordinary memories, and create happiness.
So while the negativity may creep in and make me feel like I shouldn’t be here, I look around and know that through my drive, creativity, and passion I need to be here!
After five months of working hard and saving lives as a lifeguard at Blizzard Beach, I have been offered an opportunity with Disney’s Safety team. After two months of showing my dedication to the company, I sat down to share my plan and goals with the leader of the Blizzard Beach water park. Due to her ongoing support I had nearly two dozen Meet and Greets / interviews across Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. It was an amazing opportunity to learn about different business segments and expand my professional network. Nearly every single free day I had during the week was dedicated to growing my professional influence through expanding my network, researching Disney business units and potential opportunities. It was exhausting work and a little stressful hoping that I would connect with the Disney leaders that I had the privilege to meet. My resume got tuned up, my response to tell me about yourself was refreshed to focus on what I could highlight about myself to be of interest to the audience, and my business professional wardrobe was extensively used (thanks again Ann Taylor for helping me dress professionally!). Repeatedly, I have seen the formula for success, sometimes it was tweaked, but overall it follows the simple equation:
Success = (Leadership + Management) x Technical Skills x Relationships
I have recently achieved a huge success, starting yesterday I am a Disney Professional! I proudly wear my Disney badge over my professional personal clothes, seek to better the company through managing a project for safety performance alignment, and am growing my knowledge of the workings of the company. So far I have witnessed the emphasis the professional cast place on business relationships. I look forward to helping drive the number one priority Safety through my new role!
I have been both the interviewer and the interviewee in many job placement meetings. As an interviewer, I try to set up the candidate to be comfortable to answer my questions to help me determine if they will be a valuable asset to my team. I look for potential fit with the team and myself, do they bring in any skills that is needed or adds value, do they match the passion level I am looking for with this role. I prefer to have a conversation over standard questions. Although if the conversation does not seem to flow or I have a set of skills that I need to make sure are covered, I do keep a list of questions such as:
- Tell me about yourself. Note that this should be like a 30 second elevator speech on what makes you a great candidate for this team and role. Include an actual example story of something you have done for bonus points!
- Tell me about a time you were in an (insert type of situation) situation.
- How many golf balls fit in a school bus?
As an interviewee, I do my best to prepare to impress. For the preparation:
- Research the job applied for, do you have stories of your experience for each of the job requirements?
- Learn what you can about the organization and the team members
- Know your own resume
- Make sure you wear highly professional clothes, I prefer the business formal clothes from Ann Taylor
- Research the current team members or the people interviewing you on LinkedIn if known
- Review standard interview questions and think of the most appropriate way for you to answer them (what is your greatest strength, weakness, why should I hire you?)
- Prepare questions to determine the goals, priorities, problems, challenges, expectations, team vision, and what to expect during the interview process.
Taking the time to prepare for an interview is evidence of your desire to do well and provides insight to your dedication to the job you are applying for. Prepare for the jump into a new position and set yourself up for success!
BONUS: More potential questions that I have used in interviews:
- Why do you want to work for this company?
- What value would you add to the company?
- What is your work background?
- What are your hobbies?
- What is your greatest accomplishment?
- What is the best idea you ever came up with to improve your business?
- How do you plan your day?
- Describe your organizational skills
- How have you dealt with conflicts, what would you change?
- How do you handle working on multiple projects/tasks?
- Tell me about a time when you had to be creative.
- Name one challenge you were faced with in a previous position.
- Describe the qualities that you have that would make you a good candidate for this position?
While walking to my lifeguard stand under an endless blue sky with a slight breeze, one of my favorite songs came on over the speakers, Groovin. One of the lines in the song says, “I can’t imagine anything that is better.” The entire park just felt magical at that moment. It was a feeling of serenity. At Blizzard Beach and all of Disney, people are having a great time and making memories with their families. They can be chilling in a slow moving float along Cross Country Creek, or building a sand castle by Melt Away Bay. We have planned magical moments such as the Ski Captain being chosen to be the first one down Summit Plummet, but there are the unintended magical moments that even as a cast member I get to experience such as a great song on a perfect day. I feel like every day I get to make an impact on others and I am so grateful for this experience. I look forward to furthering my career at this amazing company. I love being a part of the magic at Disney!
According to Fortune, The Walt Disney Company is the most admired company in the entertainment industry for 2016, ranking 5th overall. Sallie Krawcheck, Chair of Ellevate Network and Former President of Bank of America’s Global Wealth & Investment Management understands the value of integrity, independent thinking, and admiration. During the huge financial downturn, Sallie was identified as the Last Honest Analyst on Wall Street. Through her struggles, she persevered while balancing work and raising children. During the Global Leadership Summit of August 2015, Sallie stated that her children were a source of confirmation for her. She knew that if she worked every day as if your children are watching you, she would make the most admirable decisions.
Working at Disney, I recently brought my children to see Blizzard Beach. Their response was phenomenal and filled me with pride. My daughter couldn’t wait to get back to school and let her teacher know that her mom worked at one of the coolest places in the world! My kids have asked to go back nearly every day since their visit. I am so grateful for places like Disney that inspire so much happiness and awe in people. While Disney has the fun job of entertaining people, being admirable can be challenging. I strive to be a great role model, to seek out my dream career and inspire my family.
Hello, I am Jennifer! I am starting on a journey to get to my dream job. Last week I quit my very well paying technical leader position at the number one defense contractor to pursue a career with Disney, the company whose main goal is to Create Happiness. I am obsessed with The Walt Disney Company and have a BIG HAIRY AUDACIOUS GOAL to be an influential part of this amazing company and help families create amazing memories.
I have tried the normal way of applying to positions that are equivalent to my experience and skills, but I kept getting past over for internal candidates. Therefore, I am going to be one of those internal candidates. I am going to become a cast member, do the hard work necessary to learn everything I can to one day be a great leader for The Walt Disney Company. The first step in my journey at Disney has me going in as an aquatic safety adviser, also known as a lifeguard at Disney’s Blizzard Beach.
The risk is a little high, but I have worked with my family to strategically secure us financially for a limited amount of time, continue my knowledge growth, and to expand my skills. I am researching going back to school and get my MBA while also working with my boyfriend, Jason, in maturing and launching his mobile web application, a game currently called American Sleuth. I hope to gain some database management and marketing experience, our first official team meeting is tomorrow!