Dalia Ganz started working at the Walt Disney Company as a recent college graduate in 2005. By the time she left this summer, she had risen to vice president of social media, digital marketing and synergy. Although Ganz recently left Disney to pursue her next career move, she found herself reflecting on the invaluable advice she received over the 17 years she spent working alongside strong and encouraging mentors. When she shared the 10 best pieces of advice on LinkedIn, the post quickly went viral. “I was amazed to hear how many people said they were printing it out and bringing it up in staff meetings,” Ganz says.
Now, she’s sharing more advice with Entrepreneur on how to be a better leader and build a strong team.
Be aware of how you present yourself
As a leader, you’re the one who sets the standards and norms for your team, so it’s crucial to embody the values and behaviors you want to see in others. “In my career, I learned that how I reacted to situations, especially the challenging ones, really set the tone for how my team would choose to react to the same situation when it happened to them,” Ganz says. “Being a role model for your team is critical. They’re constantly absorbing how they see you react and lead.”
Don’t just rise to the occasion when bravery strikes: Adopt patterns and habits that your team recognizes to build trust and strength. “This really manifests itself across everything that you do,” Ganz says. “Are you taking vacation? That’s going to set the direction for your team. When are you sending emails? How are you interacting with other teams? Your team is gonna take cues from how you lead.” It’s not just one situation, it’s how you show up in every situation.
Encourage and foster everyone’s superpower
Leaders should not only provide constructive feedback, but they should also identify and foster team members’ specific strengths. “As leaders, we have a responsibility to help our teams maximize their superpowers,” Ganz says. “That is so important. Every leader needs to help their team understand their strengths and value.”
Ganz also argues that a culture of constant communication and feedback helps identify those strengths. Don’t just use mid-year or quarterly reviews to provide feedback: Utilize weekly check-ins to identify strengths and weaknesses.
“I think there’s a problem where people use weekly status meetings as just going through the work,” Ganz adds. “But your weekly meeting with your boss should not be a checklist of projects. It should be about developmental feedback in real-time. How did somebody respond to a situation over the past week? How did somebody approach a project over the past week?”
Take control of your decision-making
Being a leader involves making endless choices, so it can be difficult to determine what the right route is, especially if it feels like all eyes are on you. But Ganz has a hack that makes any business decision infinitely easier — and stronger. The first step is having all the information necessary to make the decision. Then, it’s all about strategy and data.
“I think people swirl in meetings because there isn’t strategy and data to back up good decision-making,” she says. “When I show up to meetings, I show up prepared with sound strategy and sound data so that my decision-making is rooted in concrete facts and a plan.”
Although there’s always room for gut instinct, Ganz adds, concrete data and a plan to follow will always be easier to make a case for.
Image Credit: Dalia Ganz Freeform
Don’t think you need to leave your job to advance your career
When Ganz first came to Disney, she says she was told by outsiders that she’d have to go somewhere else eventually for “real career growth.”
“I’m so glad I didn’t listen to that advice,” she says. In her 17 years, Ganz was able to advance her career, harness her skills and build meaningful relationships across multiple industries, all within the same company.
In today’s job market, it can be tempting to shop around and shift after a certain amount of time. However, Ganz argues that if you’re happy, don’t feel like you have to leave to move forward with your goals.
“There are so many ways to advance your career within a company,” she says. “Being strategic about that is just a good way of growing your career.”