Fostering Excellence
Bringing out the best in each of us
Yosemite Sam was one of my childhood favorite cartoon characters. Truth be told, he still is one of my favorites now that I have “grown up.” His mishaps, explosive temper and inability to get the best of Bugs Bunny still has me laughing. As I study leadership and share these cartoons with my children, I am learning that there are lessons in leadership (or rather how not to lead) in these ridiculously funny shorts. Here are a few I have noticed:
Blame the Camel – Yosemite Sam always failed, but never took ownership of those failures. It was always his steed’s fault when Yosemite’s plans fell through. His camel, elephant, dragon or horse would bear the brunt of his rage and failure even though it was Yosemite’s plan that had ultimately failed. Lesson – own your failures, don’t blame your employees for your mistakes!

Be Feared – Yosemite Sam was feared wherever he went. His reputation preceded him (except perhaps with Bugs) and the village, castle, or western bar would clear out upon his arrival. No one wanted to be near him. He had influence to be sure, but the wrong type of influence. People did what they could to avoid him and stay on his good side, not what needed to be done to be successful. Lesson – Break down barriers, be personable, and cultivate an environment where everyone is pulling together for the success of the organization.

Win at All Costs – Yosemite Sam had to win at everything, he needed to be the proverbial ‘Alpha Male.’ Because of this, he become easily manipulated by Bugs Bunny and ended up being blown up, fallen off a cliff or shot by his own revolvers. Lesson – Define success by what the team accomplishes not what you as the leader accomplishes. If the team wins, then you and everyone on the team wins. Don’t win at the expense of the team.

Lose your temper – Yosemite Sam had a very short fuse, and was almost always angry. When his best plans fell apart, instead of taking the failure with grace and looking to the future, he exploded with rage. He never had a posse probably because he was so difficult to be around, who wants to be around someone who is always angry? Lesson – Take failure with grace, put on a smile and try again.

Don’t Learn From Your Mistakes – Bugs Bunny pulled the same gags on Yosemite every time, and he fell for them every time. Instead of engaging in some deep reflection to see what went wrong, and what he could have done differently, Yosemite just got mad and fell for another predictable gag. Lesson – Learn from the past, reflect on your performance and look for ways improvement.

What Yosemite Sam Can Teach Us on How Not to Lead

5 Attributes of a Toxic Leader

Assessing Productivity Shortfalls

Products and Services

Attributes of the Toxic Employee

Bottom line? Keep watching Yosemite Sam-just don’t be like Yosemite Sam. Stay cheerful, allow others to shine, own your mistakes and reflect on the past to improve your future.

Michael Farr, PMP, is a Chief Master Sergeant in the U.S. Air Force and founder of He is passionate about recognition and enabling professionals to motivate their organizations through recognizing their member’s excellence. When he is not slaying dragons with his kids, he can be found at @fosterxcellence on Twitter and @fosteringexcellence on Facebook.