Leadership Lessons from Mickey Mouse

Yes, it is true, Mickey Mouse is a leader and I will prove it. About a year ago, I was travelling aboard a British Airways flight from London to Orlando, Florida. A little girl, probably four or five years old, was seated on the other side of the aisle from me. She was good for most of the flight but as we prepared for landing suddenly there was a change in her behaviour. For some reason, she refused to get into her seat and have her seat belt fastened. She began to cry and this caught the attention of a cabin crew member who tried to calm her down without any success. Pleas and promises of treats fell on deaf ears and finally a senior cabin crew member was called in to handle the situation. This middle aged woman walked up to the little girl and the conversation went something like this.
Woman: (Smiling) “Hello darling. Why are you crying? Mickey Mouse is waiting to see you.”
Little girl: Calmed down and looked up.
Woman: “Are you going to see Mickey Mouse?”
Little girl: Brightened up some more and nodded her head
Woman: “But did you know that Mickey Mouse doesn’t see little girls who don’t take their seat for landing?”
Little girl: Looked somewhat confused and shook her head.
Woman: “Well, he doesn’t.” The woman stated matter-of-factly. “Shall I call him now and tell him not to see you because you’ve refused to take your seat for landing?”
Little girl: Looking horrified, shook her head.
Woman: “Are you going to take your seat for landing then?”
Little girl: Still looking horrified, nodded her head.
Then she slid off her mum’s lap unto her empty seat and did not make a sound as her mum fastened her seat belt.
Woman: “Good girl, Mickey Mouse will be happy to see you.
She turned and walked away triumphantly, the cabin became quiet, and not another sound was heard from the little girl. Mickey Mouse had saved the day.
This story is a clear indication that Mickey Mouse is a leader because according to leadership guru, John C. Maxwell, “Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less.” Without any doubt, Mickey Mouse had more influence over that girl’s behaviour than anyone on that plane and he wasn’t even present to begin with. That little girl didn’t care what all of us on the plane, including her mother, thought of her and her tantrums, but she cared what Mickey thought.
The leadership lesson here is this; great leaders do not have to be physically present to have an effect on the behaviour of a person or group of persons. These men and women have made so much impact in the lives of others that even when they are physically absent from a location, they are still able to influence the happenings there and possibly better than those who may be physically present.

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