6 Leadership Thoughts From Toy Story 3

Who is not a fan of the Toy Story series?  With the DVD release taking place Tuesday, the following is an updated post of the movie’s June review.

My family just went to the movies and watched Toy Story 3.  This is not the normal kind of movie I enjoy but it came highly recommended.  We had a great time and what is shown during the credits is absolutely hilarious!  The creativity and talent of the teams at Disney and Pixar are unmatched. 

The following are key leadership learnings that you can take from this movie and apply to your organization.

  1. Compelling Vision – Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks) had a singular focus – Get Back Home To Andy.  No matter what he encountered, every decision and action he took was to fulfill that one purpose.  Leaders, do you passionately defend and champion your vision?   
  2. Who Do You Serve – The antagonist of the movie is a not-so-cuddly bear named Lotso.  As the movie progressed, it became apparent that he was self-serving in his decisions.  A pivotal point in the movie is when Barbie properly diagnosed his linear leadership style.  Hierarchical leadership is cute in an animated movie but the reality is that all leaders fall into 1 of 2 categories – Leaders Serve Others or They Serve Themselves.  Leaders, which type of leader would your team say you are?
  3. Team Approach – For the toys to escape the Sunnyside Day Care Center, it took each toy working together and utilizing their individual uniqueness to facilitate their escape.  Leaders, have you discovered what each team member brings and leverage those skills in an appropriate and productive manner. 
  4. Ease and Accessibility – At 2:20 PM, both a regular (2-D) as well as a 3-D version of the movie were being shown.  The theatre staff had us line up to enter our respective theatres.  The regular version line had over 50 people while the 3-D version had 0.  The theatre staff told me this is because the 3-D technology is currently more expensive and bulky.  Church and businesses leaders, do you keep your choices simple and easy to engage?  Genius is making the complicated simple, not the simple complicated.    
  5. “I Get The Corvette” – When Barbie was placed in the Donation Box, there was no remorse by the other toys.  In fact, the only statement was “I get the corvette!”  In that humor is sobering reality.  Leaders, don’t be fooled as things will move on without you.  Someone will always ask for “your corvette”.   
  6. There Is No Success Without Succession – The movie’s most touching part was when Andy gave his toys to a young girl named Bonnie as he was going off to college.  In addition to being generous, Andy took additional time to point out each toy’s characteristics and how to properly utilize them.  This ensured the ongoing viability and success of his 12-15 year investment.  What a picture of how to do multi-generational work!  Leaders, are you preparing your organization to outlive you?

The most special time of the movie though had nothing to do with what was on screen.  My 11-year old daughter sat between my wife and I.  She and I were constantly laughing, wrestling over the arm rest, and just generally having a great time.  We always resolved this issue by her finally relenting, wrapping her arm around mine and putting her head on my shoulder.

Driving home I was struck with the realization that we had just watched a movie about a young man going off to college and reflecting on a relational investment he spent over a decade pouring his life into.  In seven years, my daughter will be going off to college and on that day her mother and I will reflect on the relational investment we made in her.  

I will eventually forget Toy Story 3.  However, I’ll never forget the laughter, my daughter’s arm wrapped around mine, and her head resting on my shoulder.  That’s what I’ll remember.

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About Brian Dodd on Leadership

I am a church stewardship and leadership consultant for INJOY Stewardship Solutions. This blog combines my personal passions of church, sports, pop culture and family into a single leadership resource. I trust your time on this site will create conversations and add value to your life.

One Response to “6 Leadership Thoughts From Toy Story 3”

  1. smaxbrown RT @BrianKDodd: 6 Leadership Thoughts From Toy Story 3: http://wp.me/pVReH-y1

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