I have three sons. No daughters. I have been known to occasionally throw myself a big pity party for only having sons. I am never going to get to take a daughter prom dress shopping, or help her plan her wedding, etc. But then I am reminded that having a girl could mean a house full of Disney Princess paraphernalia. As a bit of a tomboy, I shudder, and realize I am grateful for my boys and their matchbox cars.
Other than Barbie, Disney quite possibly has had some of the worst impact on the female image. For starters, most Princesses are typically saved by a man. They teach us to expect “happily ever after”…. I married my Prince Charming but had no idea happily ever after would include fighting over who empties the dishwasher. And don’t even get me started on body image…. But I recent tried to give the Princesses the benefit of the doubt and there might be a thing or two we can learn from them and apply in the business world.
Cinderella. Act like you are. Cinderella was a lowly maid in rags. But she wanted to be a Princess. So she acted like one until people saw her as one. She wore her ball gown and tiara, danced at the ball, and flirted with the Prince. And she became a Princess. Do the same at work. If you are a Manager and want to be a Director, start to act like a Director. If you are an individual contributor and want to manage people, start to mentor people and eventually people will see you as someone that would be good at managing a team. I have done this successfully many times in my career.
Snow White. Embrace diversity in your team. Snow White had seven dwarves with unique skill sets supporting her (they were even named for their key contribution). She seemed to love them even more for their uniqueness. It is the same in the business community. You often need diverse skills to achieve an ambitious goal. Diversity also ensures the best idea will be evaluated. If you have a group of homogeneous individuals, “group think” could keep you from innovation.
Merida from Brave. Play to your strengths. Merida did not like or excel in typical “princess like” activities (dressing up, acting like a lady, etc.), but she was exceptional at archery, horseback riding and climbing cliffs. Throughout the movie Merida used her “non princess” strengths to resolve situations successfully. We should all recognize what we are good at and not only nurture it, but find situations we can leverage it. I happen to be very analytical. Traditionally, marketing leaders have been strong in creativity, not necessarily analytical thinking. But I have used this skill set to be a data driven marketer and it has been invaluable. My management chain has applauded my focus on ROI.
I don’t believe we should emulate the Disney Princesses in general. For example, I am still waiting for the Disney Princess that saves the Prince. But, I do think there are some nuggets of wisdom in a few of their approaches.