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Build a stage where others can star

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

Pixar co-founder Ed Catmull exemplifies the greatest form of leadership: He resists the limelight and instead empowers others to achieve the extraordinary. For proof, look no further than Pixar’s nine blockbuster computer-animated films, beginning with “Toy Story” in 1995.

Tactics an exceptionally creative leader uses:

1. Redefining the vision. After he accomplished his initial dream, to create the first full-length computer-animated feature film, Catmull set a new goal: to build an organization that could produce magic long after he was gone.

2. Delegating power. Catmull, unlike some other micromanaging studio execs, gives directors authority. He sets the budgetary and timeline expectations, then stays out of the creative process. Even when reviewing works in progress, he insists that his opinion is merely advice and shouldn’t dictate the directors’ decision-making.

3. Fighting the success syndrome. To keep the improvements coming, Catmull insists that postmortems be taken seriously.

— Adapted from “Pixar’s Collective Genius,” Steve Prokesch, HBR Editors’ blog.

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