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How Disney’s CEO escaped a bad boss

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in Career Management,Workplace Communication

Soon after joining ABC as a 23-year-old, Bob Iger faced a dilemma. His manager assigned him tasks that he deemed ethically questionable. The pattern continued. Iger’s supervisor kept requesting that the young employee act in bad faith and behave dishonestly.

Iger, now chairman and CEO of Walt Disney Co., decided to tell other ABC personnel about what he deemed his supervisor’s bad behavior. That backfired.

His manager learned that Iger was badmouthing him and called him into his office.

“He accused me of spreading rumors about him when I knew the rumors happened to be based in fact,” Iger re­­calls. “He told me I wasn’t promotable and I had two weeks to find another job somewhere in the company or I was gone.”

Luckily, Iger landed another job at ABC.

Fourteen years later, he rose to become president of ABC Entertainment. Meanwhile, his manager got caught and was escorted from ABC’s offices in handcuffs.

Iger, 64, became Disney’s CEO in 2005. The company has thrived under his leadership with shareholder return of 220% over the last decade.

To encourage employees to take creative risks, Iger shares his own miscues. In 1990, for instance, he championed the idea of a new kind of TV show: a musical drama at a police station. But "Cop Rock" survived only 11 weeks on ABC before getting canceled.

— Adapted from “Disney CEO Bob Iger Shares His Approach to Leadership,” Alex Ben Block,

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