Lead Like a Lion: Lessons from The Lion King

With Disney’s new, reimagined version of the The Lion King movie set to release this week, it’s the perfect time to look to the original 1994 classic for leadership insight! From overcoming obstacles to staying true to yourself to reaching your full potential, this movie is full of life lessons.

Check out these timeless quotes from the king himself, Mufasa, to discover your inner lion and let those around you hear you roar!

“Remember who you are.”

So many times, leaders forget who they are and try to lead their team in a way that isn’t natural. Usually caused be inadequacies, personal preferences, or the desire to lead like someone else, a leader can overcorrect and choose a leadership style that causes disengagement or apathy. When a person isn’t genuine, others will respond in kind. However, the best leaders aren’t those who cover up their weaknesses or try to be someone they aren’t, but those who stand up and embrace who they are. People will follow leaders who know who they are and who uniquely lead as themselves.

“I’m only brave when I have to be. Being brave doesn’t mean you go looking for trouble.”

Success belongs to the bold, and those who face the potential of failure with a brave face going into the storm seem to be the ones who come out on top. But as Mufasa says, it’s not wise to look for or even create your own obstacles. There will be times where you, as a leader, need to be brave and resolute to maintain morale and decrease anxiety. However, your team will feel more secure with a leader who navigates these types of troubling instances, not the maverick leader who looks for danger.

“Everything you see exists together in a delicate balance. As king, you need to understand that balance and respect of all the creatures, from the crawling ant to the leaping antelope.”

Mufasa recognized that to lead such an eclectic group of creatures he needed to understand what these creatures wanted and needed. You can’t lead an ant the same way you lead an antelope. Similarly, your office most likely is a mural of people from different backgrounds, cultures, and customs, all bringing with them specific skills, traits, and insights. Before you can lead a diverse team, you need to understand what they want in a leader, how they need to be led, and ways you can help them bring their best every day. This type of group needs a balanced leader who is adaptable from one employee to the next.

“Believe in yourself and there will come a day when others will have no choice but to believe with you.”

One of the most important aspects of leadership is getting buy-in from your team. If your team does not believe in your mission, they most likely won’t give you the backing needed to succeed in your organizational goals. People need to know the why behind the what. But it starts with you. If you believe in the why and are passionate about reaching a goal with your team, soon your team will start believing. Passion is contagious. And there is nothing more inspiring than a passionate leader who will fight in the trenches with a team for a specific purpose. Believe in yourself, believe in the mission, and others will follow.

“You have forgotten who you are and so have forgotten me. Look inside yourself, Simba. You are more than what you have become.”

Failure and setbacks can cause us to lose sight of our purpose, derailing the mission we set out to complete. Some leaders reach for the stars, but when they aren’t successful, failure can be debilitating. Sometimes, we can even cause the setback by not shooting high enough. Maybe you have it in you to be a great leader, but instead of empowering your employees, you’re settling for merely delegating tasks. As Mufasa said, you are more than what you have become. Don’t forget what you originally set out to accomplish. Dig in, rediscover your purpose, and press on.

When dealing with past failures it’s important to move forward. Here are three bonus quotes to help push past failure and lead your team like a lion:

  • “Look, sometimes bad things happen — and there’s nothing you can do about it. So why worry?” – Simba
  • “As you go through life, you will see that there is so much that we don’t understand. And the only thing we know is things don’t always go the way we plan.” – Simba
  • “Oh yes, the past can hurt. But from the way I see it, you can either run from it, or learn from it.” – Rafiki

What are some of your favorite quotes from The Lion King? How have movies inspired you to become a better leader? Let us know in the comments section below!

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