Leadership Effect on Organization


Leadership style plays an important role in an organization. The case of Michael Eisner and his time as CEO and Chairman of the Board at Disney is a perfect example of the way leadership style effects a company. Eisner came into power as the leader at Disney at a pivotal time when Disneys revenue was lackluster and the brand seemed to be stagnating with consumers. Eisner helped to reverse the fortunes of Disney; however, he had many factors working in his favor, such as buy-in from other followers. Later on in his tenure, Eisner faced opposition from other members of the Board and Eisner mismanaged the conflict and eventually resignedbut not before making sure Disney was in good hands with Bob Iger taking over. This paper will describe how Bob Iger has managed to right the ship that was left in mortal danger at the end of the Eisner era. It will critically analyze Igers impact on organizational performance, provide recommendations for organizational success, and discuss recent developments in the field of leadership.

From Eisner to Iger

One of the more daunting tasks faced by Disney executives was how to guide Disney successfully into the 21st century in a market where so much was changing. Under Eisner in the 1980s and into the 1990s, Disney had been able to revitalize its brand with a string of animated box-office hits from The Little Mermaid to The Lion King. However, by the end of the 1990s, Disney was once again floundering as Toy Story, the Pixar computer-animated film clearly showed that traditional hand-drawn animation like what Disney produce was the future of animation. Yet Disney and Pixar had a tense relationship during the Eisner era. Additionally, Disney had been unable to capitalize on non-animated film markets because of its sense of being a family-oriented brand. The studio that Iger inherited from Eisner was one in need of direction. Iger returned Disney to the recipe for success that Eisner had initially hit upon in the 1980s: give the people what they want. Iger acquired Marvel and LucasFilm as well as other hot properties and began producing films and shows that audiences demanded. Iger also oversaw the rise of Disney+, the companys streaming service that would allow it to compete with Netflix. Finally, Iger helped Disney foster better working relationships with creators who could bring their vision to life under the Disney banner; he resolved the Pixar issues that had existed between the largely independent animation studios leaders and Disney; he also helped creative talent feel secure and supported in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that has dominated the box-office in the 21st century (Downes, Russ & Ryan, 2007).

With that in mind, what was the leadership style that Iger utilized to right the ship at Disney following the final tumultuous years under Eisner when the Board was conflicted and the conflict was aired in public? Igers leadership style was laissez-faire leadership stylea hands-off approach to running the various departments on Disney. Iger trusted that those involved…

Thus, he did not have to be involved in every leadership decision. He wanted others to take on leadership responsibilities and make the decisions that fell to their purview. Igers outlook was simply that he wanted Disney to be consistent: he wanted creators to feel supported and independent so that they had the room they desired to bring their vision to life. This, more than anything else, helped motivate workers, enhance morale, and bring Disney roaring back to life.

Authentic Leadership

One reason people had reason to trust Bob Iger as head at Disney was that he is an authentic leader (Scipioni, 2019). One of his maxims is that it is okay to make mistakes sometimes so long as people learn from their mistakes. He never fakes his way through his work and asks that others do not either. He wants the organization to be one that is successful because it is filled with creative people who not only know how to make things work but also have the capacity to figure out solutions to problems (Weber, 2019). Iger was able to identify top talent that could mesh with his vision of what Disney needed to become in the 21st century and then stop back and let those individuals do what they were hired to do, knowing that the culture he had established was one in which authentic leadership was promoted and honored. Those who merited praise would receive it under his watch. Those who showed that they had the tools and know-how to perform well were given space to do their work without the risk of a leader attempting to micro-manage their work.

Successful leaders carefully analyze problems, assess subordinates’ skill level, consider alternatives, and make an informed choice, and this is what Iger has done since taking over Disney from Eisner. Iger saw that one of the big problems under Eisner was that Disney and Pixar were at odds over who would control the future of the animated studio. Iger understood that Pixars greatness lay in the genius of its animators and creators; the last thing he wanted to do was stifle their creativity by requiring Pixar to submit to oversight from Disney. Instead, Iger stepped back and gave Pixar free reign to produce as it saw fit, which was the right step to resolve that conflict.

Recent Literature on Leadership

Alvesson and Einola (2019) note that there are risks to authentic leadership, especially when a leader falls nto the trap of excessive positivity: one such risk is that authentic leaders may have an out-of-date view of corporate leadership. What made Igers approach work at Disney is that it came about at the right time and addressed a real need within the organization. Disney had been overseeing various departments with mixed results. Pixar was in danger of leaving, which would really cripple Disneys animation prospects. Likewise, Disney had not released anything promising since the early 1990s. Iger stepped in and identified what the public wanted, and hired top-tier talent to cultivate the Marvel projects and the Star Wars universe projects. He married authentic leadership with transformational leadership and helped to turn Disney from a family-oriented brand into an all-access brand that could get behind more adult-oriented fare. As Elrehail, Emeagwali, Alsaad and Alzghoul (2018) note, transformational and authentic leadership styles can be merged together to help bring about creative turning points in organizations looking to push themselves to the next level. That is what Iger brought to Disney.

Another important article is that by Crawford, Dawkins, Martin and Lewis (2020) which looks at how authentic leadership can help to address issues in…


(USA, AUS, UK & CA PhD. Writers)


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