Every Magician’s Invisible Hand
Just two syllables is all it takes to conjure the memory of a man who made hundreds of millions of people smile. The world has admired the magical mind of Walt Disney for nearly 100 years.
I admire his older brother, Roy.
Walt was clearly the visionary behind the magic, but his brother Roy helped bring Walt’s visions into reality.
Even though Roy Disney was a co-founder, it was not “Disney Brothers,” or “Disney Enterprises.” It was “The Walt Disney Company”. There can be only one CEO, one iconic visionary, one lightning rod to pull power from the sky.
We know it takes every player in the band to make the music come alive, but the public needs a figure to focus on. This is why nearly every famous band has an obvious front man or woman.
I am fortunate to partner with Brian Scudamore, the visionary of our business.
Like Roy Disney, I am a co-founder, but I never refer to myself that way. I feel strongly that every iconic leader should be elevated and supported by their COO, never feeling they are in competition with them.
Brian and I are famously unified in our vision and in the direction of our path forward, but it doesn’t always begin that way. In private, we arm wrestle. In public, we are aligned.
A COO should be the implementer of the CEO’s vision. This requires the COO to have the ego strength to judge himself or herself only by the achievement of outstanding results, without any need for public credit or affirmation. There can only be one Winston Churchill, one Steve Jobs, one Elon Musk, even though each of these was supported by people who implemented their vision and made their music come alive.
When I have worked for weak CEO’s, I have had to step into the CEO role. Although I did a reasonably good job, I found it to be exhausting. To do the job of CEO, I had to contort myself out of my natural shape to such a degree that I finally concluded that it wasn’t sustainable or healthy.
When Brian approached me to be his COO, we drew up a list of our strengths and weaknesses and found that we were a perfect fit. He is strong where I am weak, and I am strong where he is weak. We are two sides of one coin. This serves our company well since we approach every challenge from a different perspective, then after much deliberation we land on an informed path decided by Brian, our CEO.
Our ego is loosely defined as our conscious mind, that part of our identity that we consider our “self.” By this definition, the COO must be “selfless” during working hours, wearing only the cloak of the company, subservient to its vision and its culture as set by the CEO.
The COO must be comfortable with his or her Ego Strength, and forego the need for control.
Anything with two heads is a monster.
Erik Church, COO,
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