Mary Poppins, Business Badass

By March 17, 2017Management
Reading Time: 3 minutes

The Perfect Nanny

“If you want this choice position
Have a cheery disposition
Rosy cheeks, no warts
Play games, all sort
You must be kind, you must be witty
Very sweet and fairly pretty
Take us on outings, give us treats
Sing songs, bring sweets
Never be cross or cruel
Never give us castor oil or gruel
Love us as a son and daughter
And never smell of barley water…”

It’s without question that Mary Poppins is the perfect nanny. The children got exactly what they requested. However, Mary Poppins was way more than those things if you were paying attention. Of course she was kind and loving, as well as magical and funny1. Putting your business hat on though (in this case, a top hat?), she dropped in on the wind, immediately created sustainable structure within the household, fixed the root problems and created lasting personal relationships with leadership and her team. She might be the best “fixer”, “thinker” and “do-er” that’s been put to paper or screen.

A Spoonful of Sugar

“In every job that must be done,
there is an element of fun…”

As discussed here, sometimes work isn’t fun. For some, nothing about work is fun. Ms. Poppins understood that to get work completed, even the tough stuff, you need to find ways to make it more enjoyable. She enlisted the help of the children, creating teamwork while doing the thing they hated most, cleaning. Mary understands that to get your house in order, you need everyone to chip in and get the task at hand completed. In business, having employees engaged and focused on the goal is exactly what drives the organization forward, whether it be a project, company objectives or overall vision.


“So when the cat has got your tongue
There’s no need for dismay
Just summon up this word and then
You’ve got a lot to say…

At this point, you’re thinking, “Okay, this is a stretch.” Stay with me though. Even though the sound of it is atrocious (ha!), Mary used this word when she was at a loss for words and argued there was at least ONE word that was appropriate for the moment. The point of the song and the moment is that sometimes you don’t have the answers, and there’s nothing wrong with that. In business, giving yourself time to think about an issue, situation, or whatever, is healthy leadership because you aren’t being responsive for the sake of being responsive. It’s easy to make a flash decision for the purpose of expediency, but it’s also smart to change your mind if you have spent time thinking about it and have a better decision. So, yeah, Mary got this one right too.

Let’s Go Fly A Kite

“With tuppence for paper and string
You can have your own set of wings
With your feet on the ground you’re a bird in flight
With your fist holding tight to the string of your kite…”

Celebrate your wins. Celebrate whimsy. Enjoy the company you are in. Some of the best times I’ve ever had have been with coworkers. Many of my best friends today are former coworkers. Don’t be afraid to leave after you’ve done everything you came to do. We no longer live in a business climate where staying at one company for 20 years is rewarded. Mary left knowing she had done everything she could for the children. She had satisfaction in knowing she did what she came to do. In your career, very often you will hit a point where you need to move on to continue to grow. Embrace that, don’t shy away.

There you have it, in conclusion, Mary Poppins is a badass leader whose lessons apply to both life and work. I genuinely see her as an ideal role model for both myself and my business. To that, I say Chim Chim Chir-ee.

Out of the Weeds Consulting’s mission is to provide immediate operational support, while getting you out of the daily minutiae to focus on what is important. Getting help should be easy! Contact us here for a free session to find out how we can help.

1 Can we take a tangent for a second? Is Mary Poppins an actual witch? She can fly, she has magical abilities, she appears and disappears at will. I’m not even treading new territory here, someone else cut a trailer for Mary Poppins as a horror movie. Maybe she doesn’t like labels? Also, what’s up with Bert? He obviously knows Mary. This theory will blow your mind!

Jim Ransier

Author Jim Ransier

I think Mary Poppins is an excellent role model. I'm restless, reasonable, optimistic, and always curious. I have 15+ years of creating and leading departments ranging from Operations to Creative Services, with a focus on start-ups and eCommerce. I started my own independent consulting services company so I could keep doing what I do best: help people develop and deliver on their vision. For me personally, the most interesting and fun people to work with are the ones who don't have it all figured out. I don't have it all figured out, I love traveling and problem solving in equal measure and not at the same time, and I think that "being happy" is unrealistic. I aim for being content as a more realistic goal, but who knows? I like that I don't know the answer. I'm restless and I'm always pushing forward. I try to be a good friend. I love animals, even ones that scare me.

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