Introducing Mark Everett King Jr., one of the 2022-23 Disney Ambassadors for the Disneyland Resort.
Mark started working for The Walt Disney Company in 2013, but Disney became a family tradition even earlier as he was growing up in Southern California. He has a wealth of knowledge about theme park operation from his time spent working at the Disneyland Resort in food and beverage, merchandise and attractions. Before becoming Disney Ambassador, Mark served as a Guest Show Operations (GSO) Working Lead working on the Main Street Electrical Parade and Mickey’s Soundsational Parade. He even spent several years as a Project Leader on the test-and-adjust team at Avengers Campus for WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure. Mark currently serves alongside Nataly Guzman as one of two official spokespeople for the resort.
Join us as we speak with Mark about why leadership and teamwork are important skills your students should be learning now to prepare themselves for their future.
What qualities make a good leader?
Being a good leader is about learning how to prioritize and figuring out how you can develop and cultivate a great team.
The number one thing to do is to take care of your people. If you take care of your people, they will take care of the business and your operation. In other words, a good leader is a servant leader. They understand that everything is not always about themselves. Instead, a servant leader puts the needs of others before their own.
A leader needs to be personable, empathetic and caring. In order to be successful in whatever you are trying to do within your business, you must make sure that you people feel supported and have everything they need to be able to go out there and achieve the goals you set.
Has there been a leader in your life who made an impact on you as a Cast Member?
I worked with two Production Managers who demonstrated some of the personal attributes that I value and model as a leader. They created a work environment where it was okay to have emotions and to be able to talk through our tasks, while also holding everyone accountable to the part they played on the team.
Working with these leaders taught me a lot about relationship building – skills that I put to use when working at Avenger’s Campus. In my role as a Project Lead, I worked with Imagineers and the show and ride integration team. Together, we needed to know how to prioritize our work so that each team could complete their projects within a given timeframe without impeding on anyone’s time and space.
Why is communication important as a leader of a team?
Communication is of the utmost importance when working as a Guest Show Operations (GSO) Working Lead in Disneyland Park. The GSO team needs to consider Guest flow, make sure that the parade starts on time, the Guests are having a good time, that there are no disturbances and that everything is as seamless as possible.
As a Leader you need to be able to communicate the priorities and needs to your team so that they can execute them effectively. And you should also make sure that your team feels empowered to take initiative if they notice that something needs to be done to improve the experience. I always made sure that my Cast felt comfortable to speak up if they noticed something that could potentially make our process a lot better. I want my team to know that I trust them to communicate and make decisions that will benefit the whole operation.
How can students gain more leadership experience?
Definitely lean into their passions and let them guide you in deciding your leadership roles. I was the Vice President of Young Black Achievers in High School. I also loved dance, so I became a Cheer Manager.
Take chances to grow in the areas you are passionate about. Seek advice to improve, but never take “no” as final. Keep going for it, even if at first you fail. Look for feedback that will help develop you for where you want to go because the opportunities that you get in school will be very great experience and knowledge for you as you progress throughout your life and into your adulthood.
What is the importance of teamwork?
Teamwork is essential to keep everything moving efficiently. I think about this in terms of an attraction like the Matterhorn Bobsleds at Disneyland park.
If the Cast Member loading Guests is not paying attention or is working slowly, the station will back up. This makes the job harder for the dispatcher to keep bobsleds entering the mountain. Therefore, the unloading Cast Member will not be able to keep people exiting out of the attraction, to keep the sleds moving throughout the track. So, in order for an attraction to keep running, every single person has to do their job in order to make it run smoothly. Know your role and what you are supposed to do well so that the team does not suffer.
How can teachers promote leadership and teamwork in their classrooms?
Give your students the opportunity to hold different positions of leadership in the classroom. Allow different students to take the lead on certain ideas and projects so you can constantly challenge your students to take the initiative and think of really cool ways to interpret that week’s assignment.
How do you inspire your students to practice leadership and teamwork in and out of the classroom? Let us know @DisneyImaginationCampus!
Want to learn more? Check out the Leadership and Innovation workshops at our East Campus in Walt Disney World and our West Campus in Disneyland Resort for a discovery of real-world application of leadership, teamwork and innovation at our popular Parks and Resorts. Sign up for our e-newsletter to stay up to date on all things Disney Imagination Campus and explore all our academic workshops to see how we inspire imagination-powered learning.