4 Qualities of a Great Leader According to Anne Sweeney, Ex-Disney President


Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for Management pros

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Becoming a great leader isn't all about what you know. Anne Sweeney, ex-Disney President, offers guidance for those looking to get to the top.

Article 3 Minutes
4 Qualities of a Great Leader According to Anne Sw

It takes a lot of nerve to step out of your comfort zone. This is only made worse as we age and become more hesitant over making any changes that could drastically alter our lifestyles.

Anne Sweeney, however, decided that in her mid-50s, she would embark on a significant career change. The then-President of Disney quit her position to start life as a Director at Netflix.

During her time at the entertainment juggernaut, Sweeney learned a number of things that helped her become one of America's most successful businesswomen; skills that will undoubtedly help her be a great leader in her new role.

But what are the key qualities of a leader? Should you be fair but firm or compassionate and understanding?

1. Be driven be your goals

I think the must-have power qualities for a female or male power leader are really the ability to focus, to work hard, to be extremely goal oriented and to not let the noise and the nonsense interfere with your mission.


Having something to focus on is an important part of getting to the position where you can lead others. Good goals and targets will help you refine your skills and ensure you are using your time wisely and pushing your career in the right direction. 

2. Hold everyone accountable

We are stapled together. We live and die by each other’s successes and failures.


Whether someone is Director of the company or has just started in an entry-level position, it's important that everyone is held accountable for their actions. This can be positive as well as negative but helps enforce the idea that you are working towards the same goal as a team, rather than being a hierarchy where some people are more disposable than others.

This isn't the same as treating everyone alike, as part of great leadership is understanding the intricacies of what makes each individual unique.

3. Focus on your passions

Don’t do it unless you love it. It just isn’t worth the time. And once you figure out what you love, just commit to it and go a million miles an hour.


Working at Disney may seem like a dream job, but Sweeney highlights the importance of following your passions, no matter what your industry is. You will spend a lot of time at work and you'll find it will grind you down if you don't truly love it. Leaders who are miserable aren't very effective, so make sure you want to be doing your job before you commit to managing others.

4. Don't communicate like a boss

Have a conversation. Don’t have it be a reporting relationship.


It's important to command respect in your position, but you also need to be able to trust what people are saying to you. If you run too tight a ship, you'll find that employees tell you what you want to hear, not what you need to hear. Your conversations with employees are an essential part of successful leadership and it's just as important to listen to what they're saying as it is to tell them what you need.

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