Michael Eisner MICHAEL EISNER – “Common Sense & Conflict” Michael Eisner is an American entertainment executive, whose leadership in the 1980s and 1990s revitalized the Walt Disney Company. Born in New York City, Eisner was educated at Denison University, where he studied literature and theater. After graduating in 1964, he worked for six weeks as a clerk at NBC and then briefly in the programming department at CBS. His career crystallized at ABC, which he joined as a programming assistant in 1966 and where he spent the next ten years, ultimately becoming senior vice president of prime-time production and development. Eisner’s rise through the corporate ranks was paralleled by ABC’s leap from third place to first place in the network viewing ratings.
In 1976 he was named president and CEO of Paramount Pictures. During his eight-year tenure the motion-picture studio moved from last place to first place among the six major studios. In 1984 Eisner left Paramount to become chairman and chief executive of Walt Disney Productions (renamed the Walt Disney Company in 1986). Eisner admired Walt Disney and was especially interested in children’s programming and family entertainment. The company’s success included several feature-length animated films in the Disney tradition.
Michael Eisner was an optimistic person and he was well known for being a genius in creativity. He has made Disney a company that is built on a strong combination of institutionalized creativeness that constantly produces potent ideas, and also having common sense. One question that we must ask ourselves is how does Michael Eisner have such good leadership. Well as he describes in his interview, he says that being a leader requires 4 main parts: being an example, being there, being a nudge and finally being an idea generator. There are many things that I agree upon in Michael Eisner’s way of having leadership in a company. One thing that I strongly agree on is that he has situated his company in being an “idea generator”, which to me is so powerful in a company.
When setting your company to be an “idea generator”, you must have a loose environment so people are not afraid to speak their thoughts and ideas. He strongly encourages this type of behavior within his company. From seeing this way of leadership also shows me that the culture at Walt Disney is fun oriented, exciting and loose. Having this type of culture in an organization to me is so much better and it makes people motivated to work and also helps them get through the rough times. When you have a strict culture with a million rules, I see that it affects the whole organization and it makes the internal employees not perform as well as they should.
At Walt Disney world, they are entertaining people so their culture is set in being energized, fun and exciting. Having this type of culture also bring more people into the company and these talented individuals may have the next million-dollar idea. One of Eisner’s ways of getting people to be idea-generators was by having systems called the “gong show” and “charettes”. These two systems were great ways to get people to speak their thoughts and generate ideas. They would meet once a week and people would say ideas and they would get reactions from other people at the meeting.
Having these two systems was a good way for people in an organization to know one another and how they tend to operate. Also, it is one way for an organization to become big and successful. One of the things I don’t agree with in Eisner’s style of being an idea generator is how these meetings are driven with long hours, and sometimes being day after day. He would put everybody in the same room for ten to twelve hours or even for a couple of days. He feels the longer the better and the more excruciating the better.
I can’t see basically torturing people in one room for hours at a time thinking that it is going to help generate ideas. I feel that these meeting should have been broken up differently. They should have had meetings three times a week instead of one big one every week. This way everything was spread out and people don’t get bored, angry, tired, hungry or eager to leave. If you have people eager to leave you’re meeting that shows that they are not into being an idea generator or they are not performing the way that they should. Eisner feels that having long meetings is a way to force ideas out and then they can be tweaked, changed, refined and hopefully improved.
This is true, but this can be done through having shorter meetings and having them more frequent. Having people in a meeting being worn out and burnt out to me does not show good ideas are being generated. Leading by an example is so important in a organization because you become a role model to people and the more positive you are the more positive your organization will be in their performance and making things happen. I totally agree with Michael Eisner because when leading by an example you also show enthusiasm and loyalty to the institution. By showing this type of leadership, enhances demanding excellence in the organization.
The essence of setting the example is to remember that wherever you are, whatever you are doing, imagine that a Scout in your group is taking a mental picture of you when you are least aware of it and that will be the one image that sticks in his or her mind. Every leader has a special responsibility to set a positive example. As a leader, those you work with constantly watch you and mimic you, this also has an effect on your companies success. Being there is so important as well because you always should be there for your employees. I agree with Eisner when he says you need to be in the same room with them, look them in the eyes and here their voices.
This is a major part on your decision making as a leader. Especially in creative companies like Disney, you need to be able to read certain body language and look into people’s eyes to determine their ideas and how involved they are with their ideas. But companies like Disney, is large and it is frustrating to a leader that you can’t be there for everyone so that is why you need a team of leaders running the organization, which is what Michael Eisner has. He has leaders in every division of his company and they all gel together. What makes an organization great is the quality of that leadership that is spread out across the top and not just the very top. Eisner says that he focuses on the 40 people that he interacts with everyday. That is good because it shows to those people that you truly care about them and they feel wanted.
The other leaders in the organization focus on other groups of people. Disney’s management teams are always moving around the entire world but they stay focused on what is most important to them. Eisner says that he wishes that he could be there for every signal person in his organization whenever someone needed help. But unfortunately, that can’t happen but that just goes to show you how committed Michael Eisner is and also why he is so powerful as a leader. To me, being a nudge in an organization can be an ok thing, but at the same time it is very disturbing to employees.
Eisner feels that being a nudge constantly reminds people of their ideas and what they need to do. That is true but the way he inputs it into the organization can be very frustrating to others. Eisner says that he does not keep many notes, which he should because that way you know at all times what needs to be done today and also what may need to be done in a week. Business Reports.