Who’s the Leader of the Club

Posted on November 18th, 2013 in Perspectives on Leadership by John Jensen

Hello Leaders!

Most people who have read this blog in the past know that I am a huge Disney fan (as I have written about it before).  Today just so happens to be the anniversary of the release of “Steamboat Willie” (the first distributed Mickey Mouse cartoon).  Although “Steamboat Willie” was not the first Mickey Mouse cartoon to be created, today is often treated as the official birthday of Mickey Mouse (he’s 85 years old today).  So I thought today would be a good opportunity to take a look at some leadership lessons we could learn from Mickey Mouse.

Be Kind

Mickey Mouse has taken many different characteristics over the last 85 years.  During some times in history he has been more mischievous than during other times where he has been more of an average guy just trying to get by.  While in some Mickey Mouse cartoons he can be kind of mean (The Band Concert), Mickey has typically always been a kind friend to those around him.  Because of his kindness, his friends have always been willing to follow him and help him out in any way.  Goofy and Donald (despite Donald’s frequent outbursts about Mickey’s fame) have always remained loyal friends to Mickey.  This is a characteristic that is extremely important for any leader, because if nobody likes you, then no one will follow you.

Be Curious

Mickey has always been a curious character (Thru the Mirror), always trying to seek out adventure or something beyond anyone’s imagination (a frequent theme of the Disney brand).  But curiosity is something more than just that.  Curiosity is the way that we all learn new things and continue to grow as people.  If we aren’t curious, we will never grow and have new experiences.  Sometime’s Mickey’s curiosity gets him into trouble, but ultimately it’s what makes him an interesting character that we can relate to.

It’s Okay to Make Mistakes

A lot of the time when we think about leadership we strive for perfection, but we are all going to make mistakes and that’s okay (The Barn Dance).  Mistakes keep us humble, vulnerable, and human (unless you’re Mickey, in which case you would be a mouse).  Being humble, vulnerable, and human are extremely important to leadership.  It is what keeps us grounded and keeps the people around us willing to continue to follow.  Despite popular belief, people do not want larger than life leaders.  These people are often fake and superficial and are not the best leaders we could get.  People who make mistakes are more real and we are able to relate with them better, which makes us more willing to follow.  In addition to this, not every ending is happy (See ‘The Barn Dance’).  This is also okay.  We will fail, but as you have probably heard, our failures are what eventually lead to our successes.  You learn from your failures and aim to do better the next time.

Be Yourself, Have Fun, and Be a Friend

Lastly, all anyone wants you to be is yourself.  Acting like someone else is not going to help get anyone to follow you, being a real person will bring other people to you.  Have fun, even if you make mistakes, enjoying yourself is extremely important.  If you don’t enjoy what you do, how could you expect anyone else to enjoy doing it either.  Even through tough times, it is important to always be a friend to those around you.  Friendship is extremely important in leadership and in life.


There are probably tons of more leadership lessons we could learn from Mickey Mouse (or any other Disney character for that matter), but I think that these are really the key ones to take away.  Happy 85th Birthday, Mickey.


Until Next Time,


“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” – Walt Disney

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