13 Leadership Lessons And Quotes From Maleficent

A Reel Leadership Article

If you’ve ever watched or read the story of Sleeping Beauty, you know who Maleficent is. Maybe not by name but by her character. Maleficent, as portrayed in the original Sleeping Beauty tale, is the evil fairy who puts a curse on the baby Aurora.

You know the curse. It’s the one that promises when Aurora turns 16 she’s going to prick her finger on a spinning wheel and fall into a deep sleep.

Upon hearing about the new Disney movie Maleficent, to be completely honest, there was no real interest on my part to see the movie. Yet my wife wanted, so badly, to see Maleficent. (She’s a big Sleeping Beauty fan. So much so, our dog’s middle name is Phillip after the prince who kisses Sleeping Beauty)

Angelina Jolie in Disney's Maleficent

Our original plan was to see Maleficent on Friday night (the movie’s opening night) or on Saturday. Our weekend suddenly became booked and we had to make a change of plans. Luckily for Pam, there was an early showing on Thursday.

Quite reluctantly, I said we could make it a movie date night and see the movie. I have to say I was surprised. Maleficent provided to be quite an engaging movie.

Angelina Jolie played a captivating Maleficent. The slow decent of King Stefan into madness as acted by Sharlto Copley. The movie came together quite well.

Maleficent also provided some amazing leadership lessons and quotes.

1. First impressions aren’t always true: Maleficent begins with the meeting of Maleficent and a young boy trying to steal a jewel from her kingdom. This boy turned out to be a young man named Charles. Charles would eventually go on to become the king of the land.

After confronting Charles about the theft, Maleficent takes the jewel he stole and threw it into a lake. Charles tells Maleficent that if he knew she was going to just throw the precious jewel away, he would have kept it. In reply, Maleficent tells Charles she didn’t throw it away. Rather she delivered the jewel home.

How many times do we see an action and quickly jump to a conclusion? There’s a danger in jumping to conclusions without all of the facts. That first impression may be wrong!

2. Maleficent – 

You’re no king to me

Titles are meaningless unless you have the respect of the people you lead.

3. Cast away things that hurt others: Shortly after meeting Stefan, we learn iron can hurt fairies. Stefan has an iron ring and during an embrace, Maleficent recoils in pain.

Learning the pain iron can cause Maleficent, Stefan casts away one of his only possessions.

We can learn a lot about leadership from Stefan’s selfless actions in throwing away something he prized yet caused pain to those he cared about. Are there policies or habits you have that are hurting those closest to you? If so, see what you can do about ridding yourself of those harmful actions.

Be like the young, noble Stefan and get rid of those bad policies and habits.

4. Maleficent –

Stop complaining. I saved your life.

5. Temptations can destroy us: Unfortunately, Stefan didn’t stay noble for long. Stefan stopped visiting with Maleficent and gained the desire to be king.

Once he heard the king make the proclamation that the person who kills Maleficent would become king when the king dies, Stefan begins a plot that turns his heart dark. And eventually leads to his downfall.

Shiny objects and good things appear to us all along our leadership journeys. There’s nothing inherently bad about moving to the next level of leadership or becoming a better man.

However, if you take the wrong roads to get to these places, it’s not worth it. Don’t let the next big thing change you for the worse.

6. King Stefan –

Nothing is indestructible

7. Hatred and revenge can make you the villain: Much like the temptation that destroyed King Stefan, hatred and the desire for revenge can turn you into a villain.

8. Princess Aurora (Sleeping Beauty)

I know who you are

9. There’s two sides to every story: We’ve all heard the tale of Sleeping Beauty. Well, one side of the story. Maleficent opens our eyes that there’s two sides to every story.

Stop closing yourself off to the possibility there’s only one side to the story you’re telling yourself. While Sleeping Beauty portrayed Maleficent as wicked and evil, Maleficent does a role reversal and shows the king as evil.

If we really examined the stories, we’d more than likely see the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

Search out the truth, not just the side of the story that sounds good to you.

10. Maleficent – 

I call on those who live in the shadows. Fight with me now!

The down and out, the outcasts, the downtrodden. They can be a force to be reckoned with.

11. Your heart can be restored: Maleficent was hurt. She was damaged goods after Charles cut off her wings. Her heart was crushed.

From that day forward, Maleficent became cruel and sought revenge. She even put a curse on a baby!

Yet, throughout Maleficent, you see her heart slowly begin to be restored.

Maleficent watches over the young Aurora while the inept fairies struggle to feed her, keep her safe, and raise her well. She goes as far as building a mother-daughter type of relationship with Aurora.

No matter how badly you’ve been hurt, there’s the possibility your heart can be healed.

12. Princess Aurora –

Don’t be afraid!

13. Sometimes the villain and the hero are one and the same: One of the shocking twists in Maleficent was the fact Prince Phillip wasn’t the one who awoke Sleeping Beauty from her sleep. Rather, it was Maleficent’s kiss on the forehead which awoke Princess Aurora from her slumber.

Lesson 11 shows that your heart can be restored. This also means that if you’ve done bad things in the past, you can overcome the past.

Even in the movie, Maleficent was the villain. Yet Maleficent was also the hero.

The choice is yours. Who will you be today?

I was shocked at how good the Maleficent movie turned out to be. There was a lot of great action, a gripping story, and plenty of leadership lessons looking to be found.

If you’re looking for a good date night movie, Maleficent may be the one that will hit the spot. Who knows, you might even spot more leadership lessons from Maleficent than I did!

Question: Have you discovered things aren’t always as they seemed, like in Maleficent? Why do you think this is? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Whaaaaaat?! Ok, there were some spoilers here, but it serves me right, and I wasn’t thinking of watching the movie anyway until I read this! That’s some crazy plot twists jammed into the original storyline.

    One thing I could say – Disney has a skillful way of breathing new life into some of its classics. I just saw “Saving Mr. Banks” on DVD last night and was really taken aback by the masterful storytelling and not only Tom Hank’s acting as Walt Disney, but the work of the entire cast.

    Strong leaders recognize that their team’s best ideas and work – even from the distant past – often has richness beyond its years. With skill and creativity, it can be re-purposed, and make a fresh and powerful impact.

    The work poured out into the story and artwork of Sleeping Beauty made way for Maleficent decades later, just as Mary Poppins paved the way for Saving Mr. Banks last year, as the Lion King became a tremendous Broadway show.

    • I knew there would be shock… In fact, I felt like handing in my man-card as I walked into the theater and asked for two tickets to the movie.

      • Hah. Well, you did X-Men first. So that gives you some credit on the man card to make a withdrawal, right? 😀

        The combo with the “cause I love my wife” card clears doubt.

  • So here’s my question: How do you remember all these things? Do you take notes during the movie? If so, how do you do it?

    • At first I was trying to remember everything. I’ve got a good memory but then I realized I’d forget quotes I thought were meaningful. Now, I’ve begun to write down quotes and lessons during the movie. How do I do it? I bring in a pad of paper and a pen and scribble shortly after something is said or done.

      • I guess there’s enough light to see what you’re writing?

        • Or just go blind writing? Maybe an iPad or iPhone on the lowest light setting would work too. Yea – seriously, how do you get it all down for these lessons from movies?

        • Barely. Sometimes my notes begin to overlap but, even then, I’m more often than not able to decipher what I wrote.

          • I remain challenged. Now, I want to go see a movie just to try and take notes during the show.

  • As always, great takeaways Joe – I think my wife has this on her list of movies to see, and I have no shame in saying I am looking forward to it as well. As long as the new X-Men movie is on the same list. : )

    • Haha, tell her to make the compromise! My wife is awesome and she loves seeing movies like X-Men in addition to movies like Maleficent.

    • Ha Ha!

  • InkGypsy

    What a refreshing way to review the movie. Thank you. (Although I will say, having Stefan appear first as a thief was a tip off…) *like*

    • I suppose you’re right about how Stefan first appeared. Yet I was hoping there was hope for him.

      • InkGypsy

        I believe there was – but his path of being a ruler (and a good person) was juxtaposed against Maleficent’s. Both he and M made bad choices, however, Stefan continued to choose badly, descending into madness and a place of no return, whereas, although she couldn’t undo what she had done, Maleficent chose to be better than she had been. I think the thief introduction was a way of saying he had the potential to make even worse choices and we as the audience were given a clue for later so that when betrayal happened, it was clear it was already in his nature. He just didn’t fight is as we wished he had. (Interestingly, in the novelization, written from the screenplay before the rewrites and alternate beginning were shot, Stefan, despite his show of good faith to the fairy by throwing his ring away, is shown to have cunningly kept and hidden the stone in his pocket after all. I like that they didn’t keep that in the movie but it also validated my impression that the boy/teen/young man Stefan wasn’t ever completely committed in his friendship as Maleficent was.

  • willratliff

    I am really enjoying your leadership lesson posts derived from movies!

    “There’s a danger in jumping to conclusions without all of the facts.”

    Sometimes, this is a hard lesson to learn. I’ve found by becoming a “leadership detective” and trying to get all the facts before making a decision or jumping to conclusions, it gives me a better picture of the situation (but still rarely gives the whole picture).

    Usually, if there is a conflict between two people, sitting both down individually and asking what happened can give you an idea of the bigger picture.

    Great post, Joe! Keep ’em coming!

    • Thanks Will! I’m glad you’re enjoying the leadership from movies posts. I was hoping that would happen.

  • I’m not a huge fan of Jolie but I do want to see this movie! It sounds like there are some great lessons here. I really like what you said about respecting a title. God is not someone’s God if they don’t respect Him. We must chose if He will be our God. Knowing of Him isn’t the same as knowing Him.

  • Haven’t seen it but love the tie-ins. Love what you have to say about temptation because it’s the truth!

    • Thanks man! It was so sad and heartbreaking to see the turn as he became more enamored and tempted.

  • Wonderful lessons for life AND leadership, Joe! (ooo, I can’t wait to see this one!) The lessons you shared are incredibly valuable lessons ~ It seems most spin from the very human failing in making judgements… of situations and of others. These all mean a lot to me since I saw and understood this weakness in myself caused so many misunderstandings and difficulties throughout my own life. And how much brighter, lighter and sweeter life is without that living inside of me. Thanks for being such a sweetie to your Lady-Love and sharing this one with us!

    • For the leadership lessons from Maleficient, they do tend to come from our human failings. Greed, desire, etc can cause us to be pretty ugly.

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  • Huma Imdad

    very nice lessons 🙂 awesome movie (Y)

    • Thanks Huma. I know my wife enjoyed the movie as well. What did you enjoy most about it?

      • Huma Imdad

        That daughter chose the right thing to do, instead of helping her father she helped the Maleficent ..no matter what we should be on the right side 🙂

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