Leadership with heart, mind, and soul

Book Review: Creating Magic by Lee Cockerell

Added on by Sam Davidson.

I flew through the advanced copy of Creating Magic: 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies from a Life at Disney, which is a practical leadership guide for anyone looking to make his or her mark in the world of business. In fact, after reading it, I nearly wanted to get off my entrepreneurship ride and find myself inside of some large multinational corporation, just so I could have a chance to implement some of Lee Cockerell's suggestions. They're that good.

But the best part is that you don't have to be in middle or upper management to try out some of Lee's lessons. You can be your own boss, working an entry-level gig or climbing any and every ladder and still have a chance to better your own leadership skills.

The book is thick – well over 250 pages – and doesn't have slick graphics, charts or pull quotes that you're used to in most business books. Thus, the book itself is a commitment, which sort of mirrors leadership, if you think about it. But, it's worth getting through, even if a few suggestions seem redundant.

What makes the book a compelling read is when Lee draws on his own experience. He used to work at Marriott (as did I) and he shares tales of success and failure in his early years. And while I could picture myself in lobbies, kitchens and on guest floors whenever he described an instance of learning and leadership, you don't have to be a hospitality vet to be engaged by his story. After all, he spent the better part of his career with Disney, and most of us have been to the Magic Kingdom, or have at least seen "Aladdin" or "The Little Mermaid."

You'll understand why places like Disney are case studies in remarkability when you read Creating Magic. For a company that big to be that good for that long, great leaders have to be at the helm of every aspect of the operation. And, no matter which helm of which operation you may find yourself, Lee has some advice for you.

So, whether you’re running a nonprofit or a bank, a classroom or a marketing agency, Lee's reminders – while not ultimately revolutionary at every turn – are important keys for every leader to have in his or her pocket. (These are called 'common sense' strategies, after all.) And that's why the book was so enduring for me – I can always use the reminder that the best practice is often the most obvious or even the easiest.

Because if leadership is about anything, it's about consistent excellence.

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