Catherine Powell, former President of Disney Parks Western Region, offered parting words and advice as she leaves Disney after 15 and a half years of service.
Here’s what she had to say:
“Today is my last day at Disney after 15 and a half years, during which time I have had the amazing opportunity to work across multiple businesses, in all corners of the world and with incredible people.
I leave with several beliefs I think make a good leader and, intuitively, a great team;
- View your career path as a series of stepping stones rather than a ladder to climb. Career moves seen as stepping stones teach versatility and can lead to new and often greater opportunities which may not have been immediately visible. Curiosity will help you choose different paths.
- Have courage. A courageous leader will foster loyalty, leading teams through changes with optimism and inspiration. You cant disrupt or transform without courage. Courage to believe in yourself to make the right decisions, even if there is a risk of failure.
- Be authentic. Authenticity creates trust. Teams will believe in and trust a leader they think is being true to themselves.
- Embrace vulnerability. Vulnerability is like a super power; it gives you incredible strength and confidence to face, own and eventually conquer adversity. I believe courage and authenticity can only truly exist in someone who is able to be vulnerable.
- Enjoy and encourage the success of others. A confident leader shares success. And if you can extend this to your colleagues also, then all boats will rise.
- Seek change. Disrupting the status quo is about looking for ways to embrace or finesse future opportunities for growth or even to survive. A useful step to change is to start asking “why?” And keep on asking why until the answer is immutable.
- Believe that ideas can, and should, come from everyone and anyone. Create a truly diverse environment in which everyone can contribute and so be their best self. Diversity will thrive under leaders who seek new thoughts and perspectives everywhere they look.
Apparently Walt Disney himself said “You may not realise it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in world for you”! I cant say gratitude was front of mind when it happened. But some weeks after learning I was leaving Disney, I can reflect with immense appreciation on the opportunities and experiences afforded to me and my family. And most importantly on the chance to meet and work with so many incredible people who have lifted me up over the past 15 years to make me a much better version of myself.
As I make my jump to yet another stepping stone, I am excited and curious about what this next chapter might have in store. Maybe Walt was right, and this will be the best thing in world for me!”
Gray is a lifelong Disney fan! From Disney+ to the parks, he loves it all. His favorite Disney movie is Beauty and the Beast, and his favorite attraction is The Haunted Mansion.