Everything I Need to Know about Leadership I Learned on a Disney Cruise

Been out of town the last couple of weeks, part of that vacation time was a 3 night / 4 day Disney cruise. My kind of travel from now on!

Since I like to observe, experience and learn, here are some lessons I picked up while “cruising”.

1. Excellence matters. One reason I am such a Disney fan is their commitment to excellence. Disneyland doesn’t want to just be a happy place, but the happiest place on earth. Even better then waiting on lines is laying on a hammock on a Disney island. We went to Nassau, we went to the Disney owned island. 2 days at the Disney island would have been better. Whether it was the appearance of our room, the food we were eating, the shows we saw, the staff that served. They all had excellence. They didn’t cut back on being excellent in what they did.

Disney Dream by Dana Burkey

2. You are paid to be nice. Every staff person I met on the Disney cruise was nice. They smiled. They worked hard. They loved the job. They loved the people they waited on, even me. It always amazes me the number of people who have problems understanding that when you work with the public, you are paid to be nice. Your in the check out line, and you hear how bad the checker’s boss is. Or the waiter who complains about pulling a late shift as you have come out to enjoy your dinner. Maybe Disney simply hires nice people, but for the rest of us when it comes to your leadership, you are paid to be nice.

3. Create memories for others. My daughter Laura and her now fiancee Kevin created one special memory getting engaged on the cruise. Being together on a family reunion (thanks mom and dad), was already memorable. But Disney created dining experiences, towel animal creations in our room, and even featured one of my nieces in their evening show. She was the star, but I admit I’m biased. They didn’t have to do that, but they recognized what makes a Disney cruise special, what makes a vacation special are the memories that are made. You can’t force those, but you can create opportunities for them to be experienced.

4. Fun for others can be hard work for you. For someone to have a good time, takes a lot of sacrifice. Cruise people work 6 months, and it seems like 7 days a week. We got off, the next group got on. The great dinners hosts like Tony and Rini not only worked our dinner seating, but also the 2nd seating as well as breakfast and lunch. When Disney got to their own Bahama island that I got to enjoy, they got to work. Their hard work opened the door for fun. Great leaders work hard to make life fun for those they lead.

5. Leave them wanting more. When we got back to Port Canaveral we didn’t want to get off. We wanted more. We want to go again some time. Great leaders leave people wanting more. That’s why I’ll just share 5 things I learned on a Disney Cruise, hopefully you will be wanting more.

Ever been on a cruise? What have you learned about leadership from cruising?



1 Comment

Filed under Leadership Lessons

One response to “Everything I Need to Know about Leadership I Learned on a Disney Cruise

  1. Katrina

    Thank you for your post! As a former DCL entertainment crew member who spent nearly four years working on board, it is always great to hear our hard work is appreciated by others!

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