If Walt Disney Ran a Game Store

If Walt Disney Ran a Game Store

April 29, 2015 | 2 min to read

Imagine a game store led by Walt Disney. What do you see?

You'd probably see welcoming, happy players. An engaged and creative staff, always fine-tuning the player experience.

You'd probably see a place that expands what it means to be a game store, that "continue[s] to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world."

How would Disney pull that off?

The same way he pulled off myriad cartoon icons, cherished films, and Disneyland: "transformational leadership."

How the Best Leaders Lead

Transformational leaders like Walt Disney drive the success of a group by investing in the success of its members.

They share clear, "big picture" goals, then empower and inspire followers to guide the group toward those goals.

It's proven effective and proven to promote well-being. According to this study, the more leaders resemble this ideal, the more satisfied their followers are.

That sounds nice, but what does it look like in a game store?

Transform Your Community

Transformational Leadership Theory has four central tenets: intellectual stimulation, individualized consideration, inspirational motivation, and idealized influence.

Applied to a game store, it might look like this:

1. Challenge staff and players to be creative

In the late 1960s, Disney called on Xavier Atencio—who had no screenwriting experience—to pen the script for the Pirates of the Caribbean theme ride, which became one of their longest-enduring franchises.

Define the need, not the solution: clearly state the goal, then hand over the reins.

  • Call on staff to design unique Prerelease activities
  • Invite players to curate the formats you offer at Friday Night Magic
  • Put a staff member in charge of attracting new players
  • Crowdsource in-store decorations
  • Host staff brainstorming sessions

2. Give Honest Recognition and Feedback

Disney was famous for praising employees without their knowledge, so that compliments would arrive second-hand, with more authenticity.

Focus on rewarding the behavior you want to see, rather than punishing the behavior you don't.

  • Put praise in writing
  • Call out good sportsmanship
  • Give public credit for contributions
  • Personalize rewards

3. Inspire Your Community to Reach a Shared Goal

Disney said the key to his success was "coordinating those who work with me and aiming their efforts at a certain goal."

Nurture the development of players and staff and encourage mentorship and cooperation.

  • Call on dedicated players to mentor new players
  • Host learn-to-play clinics staffed by mentors
  • Rally regulars to grow your community through a bring-a-friend program
  • Teach volunteers and staff the basics of business to develop their future career skills

4. Lead by Example

Those higher standards are meaningless if you don't live up to them yourself. Walt Disney certainly did.

So embody your own ideals, be your own best employee, and show them how it's done!

By Matt Neubert

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