Bob Iger, Daniel Burke and Leadership Presence

“Bob, everybody likes you.”

A very nice compliment from Oprah Winfrey to Bob Iger, CEO of Walt Disney Company, during his recent interview at 92Y. (You can watch it here.)

In this discussion about leadership, Bob humbly tossed aside the compliment but then addressed “leadership presence.” He talked about two traits he learned from Daniel Burke, former president of ABC and one of the “architects of the modern television industry.” These two traits are the following:

  • Be present – Iger talked about how anytime he was with Daniel Burke, Burke was fully engaged and fully present. He looked you in the eye and listened, really listened. He was not looking over your shoulder or impatiently waiting for you to finish so he could speak. He was fully present with you in that moment.
  • Be optimistic – Iger stated how Burke was always optimistic. Nobody wants to follow the leader who is always proclaiming that the sky is falling. Nobody wants to follow the optimistically naive leader as well, but if a leader wants to err on one side, choose positivity. See the best in everyone and every situation.

A good reminder for those of us desiring to lead our people well today. If the CEO of a one of the largest conglomerates in our modern age can be well-liked by those who surround him, so you can you…and so can I.

Be present. Be optimistic.

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