Wednesday, October 21, 2009

CEOs Who Support Engagement: Meeting Bob Eiger

In a recent post, Mark Phelps made a great statement: "Great organizations develop leaders with a strong commitment to building a highly engaging work environment for all employees, whether they are energized by taking on more responsibilities each year, or thrilled to be the best they can be in their current job." Last Friday, that's exactly what I saw around me.

Bob Eiger, who I did not meet until last Friday, appears to epitomize what a leader should be.

Loathe though I be to share examples of embarrassing myself (though with a 4-year-old and my tendency to try anything, I have become quite accustomed to it), I want to recount a story that illustrates the kind of person Bob Eiger is.

When we arrived at the hotel for the Disney Service Awards event, everyone was given adhesive name tags with your name, the number of years you were being recognized for (blank for spouses and guests like me) and your table number. Since we were asked to wear them, most of us were.

My husband and I were mingling and he briefly said hello to a man I did not know. This man did not have a name tag on or visible in his hand, nor did his wife. When I introduced myself to his wife, she said, "I'm Willow." No last name. I figured she had a pretty cool first name, so maybe, like Cher, she did not like to use her last name.

I then introduced myself to the husband and asked his name -- after a brief, but what felt endless -- pause he said, "I'm Bob Eiger." Always one to shove my foot a little farther in when embarrassed or caught off guard, I responded with something like, "Of course...I'm sorry I did not recognize you...I don't watch TV." A great combination of awkward, not quite true and nonsensical -- not to mention downright odd coming from the wife of a prime time television publicist whose job it is to promote tune-in for ABC network, which is owned by Disney. And, no, I had not had any alcohol.

In most situations, someone would have worried about how it made my husband look, that the CEO may think less of me, that people would be aghast. But no one I told did more than shrug it off with a laugh and say that Bob is the kind of guy who would have not thought negatively, that he acted and WAS one of the team...they all love Bob Eiger.

How many employees, let alone one the mammoth size of Disney, can say that?

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