News & Blog

Bob Iger and Bob Chapek’s CEO battle made Disney the pettiest place on Earth

News & Blog

The world of corporate leadership is often seen as a realm of professionalism and decorum, but the recent revelations surrounding the transition from Bob Iger to Bob Chapek at Disney in early 2020 have given us a glimpse into a more dramatic and, at times, petty side of CEO handovers. A report by CNBC has shed light on the behind-the-scenes power struggles, making Disney seem more like a Cinderella story filled with corporate intrigue. Let’s delve into some of the pettiest moments and power plays that unfolded during this period.

1. The Battle for the Big Office:

Despite stepping down as CEO, Bob Iger seemed unwilling to part with his opulent office at Disney’s headquarters in Burbank, California. His continued occupancy of the “expansive” office with a private bathroom and shower became a symbol of his lingering influence, even though he held the title of executive chair for the next 22 months. Iger’s fondness for “two-shower days” was a thorn in Bob Chapek’s side, who was left with a smaller, showerless office nearby.

2. Second Thoughts on Chapek’s Appointment:

It didn’t take long for Bob Iger to second-guess his decision to appoint Bob Chapek as CEO. According to CNBC, as early as two weeks after Chapek’s appointment, Iger had reservations. An unexpected move during a trip to Disney’s annual meeting in North Carolina seemed to be the turning point. Iger asked Chapek to lead the Q&A session, even though the new CEO had limited experience with annual meetings. This decision left Chapek in a scramble, and Iger privately expressed regret about his choice.

3. The Obedient Lieutenant vs. the Independent CEO:

Bob Iger had expected Chapek to be an “obedient lieutenant” similar to Iger’s role under former Disney CEO Michael Eisner. However, it became clear that Chapek had his own approach to leadership and didn’t involve Iger in company decisions to the extent Iger had anticipated. This divergence in leadership styles further strained their relationship.

4. Taking Credit for Managing the Pandemic:

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, reports emerged that Bob Iger had effectively returned to running Disney, even after Chapek’s appointment as CEO. Iger didn’t refute these claims and, in an email to The New York Times, asserted his active involvement in managing the crisis, emphasizing his 15-year tenure as Disney’s CEO.

Final Thoughts:

The drama between Bob Iger and Bob Chapek at Disney paints a picture of corporate leadership fraught with personal tensions and power plays. The battle for office space, the unexpected role assignments, and the different leadership styles all played a part in making this CEO transition far from smooth. This story serves as a reminder that even in the world of corporate giants, personalities, egos, and personal dynamics can influence the course of a company, providing a rare behind-the-scenes look at the pettier side of corporate life.

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