Quotes And Leadership Lessons From The Live Action Lion King

A Reel Leadership Article

I can’t tell you how excited I was to see the new, live-action Lion King movie. The Lion King was a favorite movie of mine and to see it brought to life seemed like a no-brainer.

Oh… how wrong I was.

Mufasa and Simba on a cliff

The latest Disney animated movie to be brought to life didn’t wow and engage like their previous effort, Aladdin. Instead, Pam and I sat bored in the theater watching this trainwreck of a movie.

The new Lion King felt uninspired and thrown together. Nothing truly caught my attention and I was disappointed because of this.

If you do go and watch the live-action Lion King, know you won’t be in for a great movie. You’ll be in for a great movie made into something mediocre.

However, if you go to see the live-action Lion King for the leadership lessons it could contain, you won’t be disappointed. I walked away with pages of notes. Today, we’re going to look at those in the latest Reel Leadership article.

Quotes And Leadership Lessons From The Live-Action Lion King

1. Leadership is vast in scope:

The live-action Lion King opens much like the original animated Lion King. The creatures of the pride land have gathered to honor the birth of young Simba (voiced by JD McCrary and Donald Glover).

There were all kinds of animals present. There were antelopes and giraffes.  Lions and monkeys abound as well. You probably saw every type of animal living in Africa appear in this scene.

The scope of animals in the Lion King was breathtaking.

Leadership is a lot like this scene in the Lion King. Leadership is vast in scope.

When you think of the scope of leadership, your thoughts can wander to:

  • Personal development training
  • Coaching
  • Relationship development
  • Time management
  • Project management

And so much more. Leadership isn’t about a single thing. Leadership is about many things.

2. Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor):

Life’s not fair, is it my friend?

Scar is Simba’s uncle. He’s also the bad guy in the Lion King.

In one scene, he does share a wise thought with his nephew. He tells the young lion that life isn’t fair.

Oh, how you and I need to grasp this truth. Life isn’t fair to us. Life isn’t fair to our team members. And life isn’t fair to anyone else.

When you’re able to grasp this truth, life and leadership become so much easier.

3. We can give people too many chances:

Zazu (John Oliver) is Mufasa’s (James Earl Jones) majordomo. He helps to care for Simba. He’s also a wise red-billed hornbill.

Zazu talks to Mufasa and shares his thoughts about Scar. He tells Mufasa that Scar should have been expelled from the kingdom many years ago.

Mufasa isn’t happy with Zazu after he hears this. Mufasa continuously struggled with what to do with his brother. His desire to keep his brother around eventually leads to his death.

As leaders, it is up to us whether or not to give someone a second or third or fourth chance. Many times, extra chances are okay.

Yet we also have to weigh the consequences of giving people another chance.

Be careful to whom you give another chance to. The extra chance you give may be your downfall.

4. Mufasa:

While others search for what they can take, a true king searches for what he can give.

Mufasa takes his son on an adventure. He shows Simba what will be his one day. Simba is amazed.

But the wisdom Mufasa drops to Simba is profound. Mufasa knows true leadership doesn’t come from what they can take. A true leader is one who gives.

This goes for you and me as well. If we want to be great leaders, we have to search for what we can give.

What can you give to those you lead?

5. Understand balance:

Mufasa understood balance. He shared this wisdom with Simba.

He tells Simba the animal kingdom is balanced. From the antelope to the ant, they create balance. And, even though the antelope feed the lions, one day the death of a lion would feed an antelope.

Everything is a balancing act.

Leaders need to understand balance. There’s a fine line between chaos and balance. Figuring out the balance will help you lead your team well.

6. Mufasa:

Ready for some fun?

While Mufasa was a serious lion king, he also had fun. When he saw Zazu coming to give his report, he let Simba have fun as well.

He showed Simba how to stalk Zazu. And then he let Simba pounce at the bird.

This scared Zazu but it also allowed Simba to have fun.

Leaders aren’t always serious. There are times leaders can have fun. Learn those times and then revel in them.

7. Be careful what you say to others:

Simba and Scar talk after Scar sees Simba fail at stalking a beetle. Simba shares something he shouldn’t have with his uncle.

In a scene that reminds me of Joseph and his brothers, Simba tells Scar one day he would be king. When he was king, he would be giving orders to his uncle.

This didn’t settle well with Scar. Simba’s words only fanned the jealousy Scar had towards Mufasa and Simba.

We have to be careful about how we talk to others, especially those we lead. We have to talk with respect to those we lead.

If we try to tell them how they have to listen to us or how we’re going to demand them to work, we’re going to push them away.

Be careful what you say to others and how you say it. Your words and tone matter.

8. Immature leaders can’t wait for control:

Do you remember what Simba’s problem was? He couldn’t wait to be king. He was so excited to be king to have control over everything.

His desire for control led him down a dark path. One he almost never recovered from.

You have to be wary of young leaders who are looking for control. If you see this desire in an up and coming leader, show them there’s a better way.

Help them realize leadership isn’t about gaining control. Leadership is about helping others realize their potential.

9. We need to be reminded of our own headstrongness:

Simba and Nala (voiced by Shahadi Wright Joseph and Beyonce) ran away to the elephant graveyard. Simba desired to be seen as an adult lion and he took a friend with him.

Mufasa was understandably upset when he found out what Simba and Nala had done. He ran to the elephant graveyard to save the pair. When he got there, he saved the two lion cubs. He was also ready to give them a tongue lashing.

This is when Zazu stepped in. He told Mufasa to remember what he was like as a young lion cub. Mufasa had been a headstrong lion, much like Simba.

You may be ready to rip into one of your team members because they were reckless or headstrong. They did something and there was a consequence they hadn’t seen coming.

It’s our human nature to want to set things straight. However, we have to be willing to remember how we were when we were younger. We were just as headstrong or foolish as our young team members.

Remember this before you correct. You were once just like them.

10. Bad leaders will mislead:

As Simba’s uncle, Scar was in a leadership position to Simba. Simba looked up to him and listened to what he said.

Should Simba have listened to his uncle? No, he shouldn’t have. Scar looked for opportunities to mislead and hurt his nephew.

Scar lied to Simba about

  • The elephant graveyard
  • How to find his roar
  • Mufasa’s death

Bad leaders will find ways to mislead their team members. They will do this to bolster their own status or for their own good.

Beware of leaders like this. They can be hard to spot and they will do major damage.

11. We need friends:

After Mufasa’s death, Simba ran away from his pack. He ran long and hard and eventually passed out. Once he was out, the vultures began to circle him.

Simba was lucky. There were two new characters about to be introduced. Timon (Billy Eichner) and Pumbaa (Seth Rogen) noticed the vultures and were going to play vulture bowling.

Their timing was impeccable. They saved Simba’s life and a new friendship was formed.

Who do you have as close friends? Do you have anyone you could say is a friend?

Leaders can’t lead alone. Leaders need friends outside of the business world to interact and grow with.

Find your pack. Grow your friendships. Make sure you’re doing life with others.

12. Pumbaa:

But we can help him. We’re in a position to help him.

Pumbaa and Timon disagreed on whether or not to help Simba at first. Simba was a lion, after all.

Yet Pumbaa knew something great leaders know. If you have the power to help someone, you should consider helping them.

13. Bad leaders destroy organizations:

Scar took over the pride land after Mufasa’s death. He began working towards his own desires.

His desires brought ruin and death to the pride land. The lush environment and thriving animal life were gone.

When a bad leader takes control of an organization, they will slowly but surely bring death to the organization. They will strangle out the good work that had been done and replaces it with their vision.

Sadly, this will see many great team members leave. Clients will leave. Eventually, bad leaders will destroy what they’re leading.

14. Nala:

You have to take your place as king.

Nala went on the hunt and found Timon and Pumbaa. She began to stalk them and almost killed them when Simba intervened.

This rekindled a romance between the pair of lions. It also prompted Nala to confront Simba.

Nala knew the kingdom needed a good king. She saw goodness in Simba. Because of this, she told Simba he needed to take his place as king.

People can spot a good leader far off. They can sense when a person would do good for an organization.

If someone tells you that you need to step up and be a leader, listen to them. They’re not doing this to blow smoke. They’re telling you this because they believe in you and know you would rock it.

Listen to those who are encouraging you to lead. They can see your potential when you cannot.

15. The right mentor matters:

Scar drove Simba away from his pack. He told Simba lies and made him believe this. This created shame in Simba’s life.

On the other hand, Rafiki (John Kani) was a great mentor to Simba. He pushed Simba to become better. To remember who he was.

Finding the right mentor matters to your ability to lead well. Find a mentor who aligns with your beliefs and has the skills you will need in the future.

Listen to them. Let them guide and mold you into the leader you must become.

16. Shame holds us back:

Why did Simba run from his pack? Scar shamed him. Scar made him believe he was the reason for his father’s death.

Shame wouldn’t let Simba return to his home. Only when he overcame the shame was he able to go home.

Shame will hold you back as a leader. You will feel like you don’t belong or you can’t do the job well.

Find the source of shame. Then beat shame back.

17. Mentors never truly leave us:

Rafiki helped Simba believe Mufasa was still with him. While Mufasa was dead, he still lived on.

He lived on in the heart of Simba. Simba could reach back into his memories and figure out what his father would have done. His mentor never left him.

And your mentors will never truly leave you. Every time they pour into you, they’re leaving a part of themselves with you. This part will grow and develop as you listen to what they say.

Their words of wisdom and inspiration will be there for you when you need them.

18. Simba:

Come on! What are you waiting for?

When Simba overcame his shame and realized he could go back to his home, he began his journey home. Along the way, he ran into Nala who had also begun her trek back after Simba refused to go.

When he ran into Nala, he called her to go. He told her to “Come on! What are you waiting for?” He called her to join him on his journey back.

Are you calling others into your leadership journey? There are plenty of people who can join you in addition to your friends.

You can call

  • Rock star team members
  • Former coworkers at another organization
  • Friends or family

to join you in the organization you’re leading now. By doing so, you will have people by your side and along for the journey.

19. Sarabi (Alfre Woodard):

A true king’s power is his compassion.

Sarabi is Simba’s mother. She stuck around the pride land to help the other lions.

Scar continuously pursued her. With her rejections, he taunted her.

Sarabi had to rebuke Scar when he criticized Mufasa’s care for others. Sarabi knew Mufasa’s strength as a king was his compassion.

Are you having compassion for those you lead? Compassion isn’t a weakness. Compassion is a strength.

When you have compassion for others, you can offer them something of yourself. You can show them grace or help them to grow. Or you might have to help them get through a tough spot.

Be a compassionate leader. By showing compassion, you will win the hearts of your team.

20. Great leaders restore:

Scar did a number on the pride land. He destroyed what was once lush and beautiful.

Simba did the opposite. He found a way to restore the pride land to their former glory.

Be a leader who restores what has been destroyed. Look for ways to bring life back to a dying organization.

Great leaders do this. You can do this.

21. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should:

The original animated Lion King was a masterpiece. The movie holds up still today. I don’t see the same holding true for the new Lion King.

In months, this Lion King will be forgotten. Or it may be remembered as a giant misstep by Disney.

Disney knew they could make a live-action Lion King. So they did. This doesn’t mean they should have.

You will have the ability to do things. This doesn’t mean you should do them.

Consider wisely what you will do before you do it. Don’t do it because you can. Do it because you should.

If you’d like to be reminded of the Reel Leadership lessons in the animated Lion King, be sure to click the link.

Question: If you’ve watched the live-action Lion King, what leadership lessons did you take away from the movie? If you haven’t seen the movie, what Reel Leadership lessons from the live-action Lion King that I shared resonated with you? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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