Universal Orlando Resort™ is Building a Common Language of Leadership

Leadership is a learned skill. Thanks to researchers like Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, authors of the LPI, it has been proven that certain leadership behaviors deliver better results than others. It naturally follows then that organizations should invest in creating a common language for leadership throughout their ranks. After all, when teams of people align around shared values and actions, they can do amazing things together.

The people at Universal Orlando Resort™ understand this fully. If you have been to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ you know what I mean. I had the pleasure of visiting this magical place with my daughter in 2012, right at the height of her love for the Harry Potter stories. Seeing Sophia’s eyes light up as she found her own special wand at Ollivander’s Wand Shop in Diagon Alley is a memory I cherish to this day.

It was in that same year that I met Kirsten Abbott-West, Director of Talent Development, Leadership, and Back-of-House for Universal Orlando Resort™. At the time, Kirsten was evolving the leadership development strategy for the organization and was learning about The Leadership Challenge® – the highly respected framework that highlights the five core practices that must be at the heart of any leader’s journey:

  • Modeling the Way
  • Inspiring a Shared Vision
  • Challenging the Process
  • Enabling Others to Act
  • Encouraging the Heart

In this recent article, Kirsten Abbott-West describes how Universal Orlando is using The Leadership Challenge to create a common language for leadership. Through this effort, Universal Orlando is preparing leaders throughout the organization to better support team members’ productivity and engagement. If you are looking to accelerate the results in your organization, Kirsten’s story might give you some great ideas. Enjoy!


Brett Cooper

Brett is the visionary President of Integris Performance Advisors, a professional development firm he co-founded to expand the existence of healthy organizations and great places to work. By creatively bringing together concepts from The Five Dysfunctions of a Team (by Patrick Lencioni), The Leadership Challenge (by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner), and Lean Six Sigma, Brett and his team have influenced thousands of people in government, non-profits and corporate America to work together in more productive, more effective and more human ways. Outside of his role at Integris, Brett dedicates time to serving others in need. He is a volunteer coordinator for the East Bay Stand Down and Stand Down on the Delta, two non-profits serving the needs of San Francisco’s homeless Veteran population. He is also board member and financial sponsor for Partners in Sustainable Learning, whose mission is to bring early childhood education to marginalized communities in the developing world (current projects are underway in Nepal).