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Show Your Character

Walt Disney thought and then acted like Mickey Mouse.walt-disney-401926_640.jpg

When trying to convey a cartoon character’s behavior to his animators, Walt Disney submerged himself in character. Although Walt could verbally communicate his wishes, when he acted them out his animators could tell exactly what he wanted.

So pack up the tool belt, jump in the truck and get into character. Show your service techs exactly what you want them to do.

I was going to say, “just kidding.” Now I’m not so sure...

There was one powerful dynamic to Walt’s interaction with storymen and animators that I want to call your attention to. When Walt acted out Mickey he made an emotional connection with his people. And they responded. Most often with side-splitting laughter. When they laughed and engaged, Walt would go deeper into character and elicit more magical and comical possibilities.

What type of feedback and response would cause you to go deeper into character?


An understanding and confirmation on your part that your coworkers understand you?

Your coworkers: We see you. We get you. Yes!micky-mouse-1286472_640.jpg

You are then motivated to go deeper.


Without feedback you do not know.

When Walt play-acted out Mickey, he continuously reacted to feedback. If his animators were not engaged and laughing he’d make changes on the fly. When something took hold and his people responded, he continued on in that direction and went deeper.

Are you getting through to your coworkers? Are you connecting?


Suggestion boxes are not collaborative.

Written feedback is informative but it’s a one-way street. Understanding, joy, disappointment and unease are but a few of the reactions that are best understood in person. Will your process or program fly? Your coworker points out an obstacle. You suggest a change. She doesn’t totally embrace it. You tweak it. You value, learn and create. And it all originated from her point of view, one that you simply did not have access to.

Meet Another Inspiring Leader

“I’m the boss. It’s my way or the highway. Walt Disney is making cartoons, I’m running a business.”

Engaging in feedback isn’t a weakness. It’s not only a learning mechanism, it’s a creating one. And as with Walt, when it connects it elicits more of your talent and clarifies your message.

Don’t get too hung up on Walt’s play-acting. This is about you really understanding your coworkers, taking action, making an impact, eliciting an emotional response, going in deeper and then enhancing your action.


You: I see you. I understand you. Here is my action.

Your Coworkers: Yes! You understand us. We get you. Here is our response!

Of course just the thought of Mickey sends us hurdling into yesteryear. As visions of Annette Funicello dance in our mind’s eye, a little melody taps upon our ears.


Now that the retro hook is set, are you really sure you don’t wanna jump in that truck?


Topics: Leadership, Motivation, Character

Posted by Dave Rothacker on Jan 22, 2017 5:05:00 AM

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