The Ride of A Lifetime Leadership Principles

I recently listened to Bob Iger’s memoir, “The Ride of A Lifetime.” By the end of just the intro and first chapter, I already had a couple pages of notes. This book is packed with great information and experiences that we can all learn from as leaders and professionals. Here are his top 10 principles of leadership.


“Optimism in a leader, especially in challenging times, is so vital …Optimism sets a different machine in motion. Especially in difficult moments, the people you lead need to feel confident in your ability to focus on what matters, and not to operate from a place of defensiveness and self-preservation…The tone you set as a leader has an enormous effect on the people around you. No one wants to follow a pessimist.”

Optimism and positivity create an environment where people believe they can move forward and that no matter the challenges, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It rallies support and action to the solution


“True innovation occurs only when people have courage. Fear of failure destroys creativity.”  

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Failure doesn’t feel good to any of us. But think back on when you have failed in the past. You survived right? You were able to pick up and move forward, making a new path ahead. That courage to pick up and forge on even though you might fail again is what creates the successes you’ll have. Iger “wanted to be in the business of creating possibilities for greatness.” That space includes a margin for failure and that’s ok.


“Communicate priorities clearly and often. If you don’t articulate your priorities clearly, then the people around you don’t know what their own should be. Time and energy and capital get wasted.”


“All decisions, no matter how difficult, can and should be made in a timely way. Chronic indecision is not only inefficient and counterproductive but deeply corrosive to morale.”

If you make the wrong decision, change course. No decision is so final that you can’t change direction later if needed. Make the hard decision now and keep moving forward. 


“Encourages the discovery of new people, places and ideas and an understanding of the marketplace and changing dynamics. […] The path to innovation begins with curiosity…Innovate or die.”  

This is extremely important in 2020. The world is shifting and changing quickly. Those who are excited and curious about the new ways we will do things and interact will be the innovators, pushing the world forward. 


“Strong leadership embodies the fair and decent treatment of people…Nothing is worse to an organization than a culture of fear.” 

When you manage your expectations and leave room for humanity and empathy, it inspires loyalty and courage to succeed and innovate. 

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Iger states that this is “one of the most underrated characteristics of leadership. It is the process of gaining knowledge and taking the time to develop informed opinions.” 

Whether it’s seeking advice from your team, mentors or friends or digging deeper into understanding what exactly you are facing, it’s important to surround yourself with wisdom. As Bob Iger puts it, “Know what you don’t know and trust in what you do.” 


“Truth and authenticity breed respect and trust.” Iger states that you should never “fake anything”. Be yourself, even when it’s hard, raw or not perfect. 

Relentless Pursuit of Perfection

This is the “refusal to accept mediocrity or making excuses that something is ‘good enough’. Put in the effort to make things great.” 

This leadership principle reminded me of dance. Part of the practice of ballet is the pursuit of perfection. And when you do it perfectly what is the first thing your dance teacher says? “Do it again.” To me, perfection isn’t a single point, it’s a constant pursuit for greatness. 


“Nothing is as important as the integrity of a company’s people and product. The way you do anything is the way you do everything.”

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I highly recommend reading or listening to this book. This is only a small part of the insight and inspiration Bob Iger shares. Haven’t read it yet? I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments once you do!

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