Only a few minutes on a Disney property and guests will recognize an extraordinary expectation for excellence. On a recent trip to the ‘happiest place on earth’, I picked up the book, Creating Magic: 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies from a Life at Disney. Lee Cockerell, the author, served as Senior Operating Executive for Walt Disney World leading a team of 40,000 Cast Members.
Fresh off our incredible vacation, I eagerly read the pages of Cockerell’s book. Immediately, I began to understand how these Disney principles could be applied to ministry as well as business.
Disney employees focus on the vision.
Each cast member was prepared, mentally and emotionally, to let the vision of Disney World govern everything he or she did: treat the Guests as cherished friends, exceed their expectations, and give them the best vacation experience of their lives.
What if we rephrased this quote for Life Group Leaders?
Each Life Group leader was PREPARED, mentally – emotionally – AND spiritually, to let the vision of being a Christ-Follower who loved God and loved people govern EVERYTHING he or she did: treat group members as cherished friends, exceed their expectations, and give them the best group experience of their lives.
If you want your employees to deliver excellent service, you’d better provide them with excellent leadership … Great leadership leads to employee excellence, which leads to customer satisfaction and strong business results. In other words, the customer doesn’t come first: leadership comes first. L. Cockerell
We – the leaders – look for ways to love others and serve our groups better tomorrow than we did today?
Leadership is more than a role; it’s a responsibility. A big one. Being a leader means doing what has to be done, when it has to be done, in the way it should be done, when it has to be done, in the way it should be done, whether you like it or not, and whether they like it or not. It means making the right things happen by bringing out the best in others. I like to say that good leaders are good environmentalists. Their responsibility is to create a sustainable business environment – calm, clear, crisp, and clean, with no pollution, no toxins, no waste- in which everyone flourishes.
As leaders, we are responsible for creating environments that enhance growth.
We take the time and effort to not only make extraordinary moments but eternal moments.
The 10 principles listed in Cockerell’s book are practical insights for anyone in business or ministry.
Listed are Cockerell’s 10 principles followed by an example of how to incorporate them into our Life Groups.
1. Remember Everyone is Important
Take care of people before programs.
2. Break the Mold
Leaders need to encourage group members to dream about what God might have them to do next and help them do it. We want our leaders to “figure out what the organization should look like, not just do your best within the existing design.”
3. Make your people your Brand
The Communications team is not the brand maker of our church family. We are. Our community connects to our people, not our logo. Do they see Christ Followers loving God and loving people?
4. Create Magic through Training
It’s our responsibility to give leaders all the resources and support they need to do their job. Disney provides extraordinary “Take 5” moments… They train Cast members to take “5 minutes or less to blow the guest’s mind.” We can all take 5 minutes or less to go the extra mile with our groups.
5. Eliminate Hassles
We should talk with leaders and find out what are some of the things that get in the way of them doing their job? When developing leaders help get obstacles out of their way.
6. Learn the Truth
Get accurate feedback from the team. What is working? What is NOT?
7. Burn the Free Fuel
Disney prioritizes the appreciation, recognition, and encouragement of their employees. It’s essential as Life Group Leaders that we tangibly show value and appreciation to team members.
8. Stay ahead of the Pack
Leaders have to stay current. Leader Development must continually provide growth opportunities for group members and leaders.
9. Be Careful in what you say and Do
Always display passion and commitment.
10. Develop character
“People will not be committed to you until they are CERTAIN you are committed to them.” L. Cockerell