Quotes And Leadership Lessons From The Super Mario Bros. Movie

A Reel Leadership Article

My latest book, Reel Leadership, is now available on Amazon. If you love movies and leadership, you will love this book.

What happens when you combine 90’s nostalgia with a classic Nintendo video game series and animation? You get one of the best video game movies ever created. That’s right, Nintendo, Illumination, and Universal Pictures created an entertaining movie.

The Super Mario Bros. Movie tells the tale of two plumbers who are brothers, Mario (Chris Pratt) and Luigi (Charlie Day). They’ve just left their employer to start their own plumbing business. The trouble? Their business is slow, even after running a television ad to promote the business.

When the city of Brooklyn experiences a plumbing issue that results in a massive flood, the two brothers hop into action. They take a dive into the sewers of Brooklyn, where they find themselves transported to the magical Mushroom Kingdom. There, they discover a whole new world.

Scene from The Super Marion Bros. Movie. Heroes of the movie including Mario, Toad, and Donkey Kong in Mario Kart vehicles on Rainbow Bridge.

They must evade dangerous new foes, make new allies, and rescue a kingdom under attack. Can they do it? You know these plumbers can!

These plumbers can also teach you a thing or two about leadership. Keep reading this Reel Leadership article to discover many of the leadership lessons hidden in The Super Mario Bros. Movie.

Quotes And Leadership Lessons From The Super Mario Bros. Movie

1. Beware of overconfidence:

Bowser (Jack Black) arrives at the Penguin Kingdom. He’s ready to overtake the city in his quest for domination (and Princess Peach). He arrives at the castle’s door and demands they surrender.

King Penguin (Khary Payton) sends out his citizens to stop the attack by Bowser.

After a few minutes, King Penguin throws out a question to Bowser. He asks Bowser if he has had enough.

Silly question, as the penguins’ attacks were ineffective against the fire squad Bowser brought to the battle. Their attacks had no impact on Bowser or his minions.

King Penguin was overconfident. This led to him and his citizens being captured.

We get so full of bravado that we fail to see whether or not our actions are effective. We keep throwing the same effort and tools at a problem.

Our confidence or bravado won’t change the fact that we may not be doing the most effective thing. Check yourself when you think you’ve got things under control.

Are they really? Is there another thing you need to do? What else needs to be done?

Make sure your actions are doing what you think they should be doing.

2. Great leaders stand up for their people:

Spike (Sebastian Maniscalco) was the Mario Brothers’ former boss. They had quit his plumbing business to start their own. When Spike saw the Mario Brothers’ commercial, he was in disbelief. He believed they would never be successful.

On top of that, Spike began to taunt Luigi. He began to talk down and make fun of him.

Mario was fed up. He wouldn’t see his brother be talked down to. He spoke up and confronted Spike.

He finished the confrontation with a great quote: You can’t be scared all the time.

Your people are counting on you to stand up for them. You’re the first and last line of defense for your people.

Make sure you have their backs. When negative reports come your way, stick up for them. You may have to circle back to confirm whether or not the reports are true. Yet, you have to stick up for your team first.

3. Mario’s Mom (Jessica DiCicco):

Don’t listen to them.

Mario and Luigi went to their family home for dinner. There were family members gathered around the dinner table. Each one took their shot at the brothers. They didn’t think the brothers had it in them to run a successful plumbing business. Their family also couldn’t fathom they left their jobs!

This was when Mario’s mom stepped in. She told the boys not to worry. They shouldn’t listen to the negative reports coming from the family members.

Who do you have around you that can be like Mario’s mom to you? You need to have truth speakers in your life, but you also need cheerleaders.

Cheerleaders are people who can see the truth and speak it gently. They encourage you and help you get through your difficult struggles. 

Get cheerleaders in your life. You’ll not only be encouraged; you’ll lead better too!

4. Beware of running out of the frying pan and into the fire:

Luigi was separated from Mario when they were sucked through the green sewer pipe. Mario wound up in the Mushroom Kingdom. Luigi wound up in the Dark Lands.

This area was scary. It was dark, wooded, and full of mystery. And trouble.

Zombie koopas attacked Luigi. These were koopas that were just skeletons. They were scary!

Luigi ran toward a castle. He was able to avoid the zombie koopas and enter the castle. But he was only running out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Inside the castle were Shy Guys. These characters are red with a white face mask. They can be creepy.

Luigi is now free from the zombie koopas but has a new threat to face. He wasn’t as free and clear as he thought.

Neither are you. It’s easy to think that getting away from a troubling issue will resolve everything wrong in the organization. When, in fact, you’re only going from one problem to another.

Make sure you’re not avoiding problems and creating more significant issues. That’s often what happens.

5. Princess Peach (Anya Taylor-Joy):

Watch and learn

Mario and Toad (Keegan-Michael Key) reached Princess Peach’s castle. They had trouble getting past her guards but were eventually able to have an audience with the Princess.

Mario was able to ask Princess Peach for help. Her help didn’t come easy.

Princess Peach called up an obstacle course that looked a lot like a Mario Brothers video game level. The Princess told Mario that if he could get through the level, she would help him.

Then, she told Mario to watch and learn. She flew through the level with ease and reached the flagpole. When Mario failed, she kept walking him through it again and again. 

Leaders know that they have to do two things with their people. The first is to show them what needs to be done. These leaders show steps, give action plans, and guide them through difficult situations. These actions help their people know that someone is with them.

The second thing leaders do is to help guide their people. When someone is struggling, you don’t give up on them. You take them through the steps, explain what’s happening, and guide them. 

Help your people to “watch and learn” from you.

6. Understand motivations:

We all think Bowser is an evil dictator. While he may be, he also had a powerful motivating force guiding him.

Bowser wanted the hand of Princess Peach in marriage. He was pursuing what he believed was love. 

That was his motivation…

What’s motivating you? What’s driving you to continue to lead? Discover this, and you’ll have a powerful force pushing you forward.

Want something even more powerful? Discover what motivates your people. By finding their motivation, you will know what drives them. It’s often not money, fame, or recognition. Your team’s motivation could be supporting their family, overcoming generational poverty, or something else. 

7. Know what you’re getting yourself into:

Mario was eventually able to move on from Princess Peach’s test. She agreed to accompany him and Toad to Donkey Kong Kountry.

They needed their help to overcome the massive army Bowser had. Their help wouldn’t come without a challenge.

The trio approached Cranky Kong (Fred Armisen). Cranky Kong told them Mario would have to face off against his son, Donkey Kong (Seth Rogen). Donkey Kong was not someone to be trifled with.

Donkey Kong smashed Mario again and again. Mario had no hope against this beast… Except for a power-up.

We get ourselves into all sorts of issues when we lead. We may make rash business deals that get us stuck with someone we shouldn’t have partnered with, get angry without cause, or let go of a department because we think they’re no longer needed.

Suddenly, you find yourself in a place you never thought you’d be. You’re struggling with legal issues, your people no longer want to work for you, or you now need to hire more people at a higher wage than before.

Understand the situation your choices will get you in. Then make the best choice you can.

8. Our partnerships can look unconventional:

The team that was formed in The Super Mario Bros. Movie was anything but conventional. You had the Mario Brothers (two plumbers), Princess Peach (a princess and a woman), Toad (a mushroom person), and Donkey Kong (a giant gorilla). The partnership was strange.

Yet, these people coming together for a common cause saw success. Their unique skills, talents, and ideas were needed.

What do your partnerships look like? Are they formed with similar people?

I want to encourage you to look for unconventional partnerships. Partner with people who look, speak, and act differently than you (I’m not saying partner with unethical people).

People who are different from you will bring different life experiences, ideas, and tactics to your business dealings. They can be precisely what you need.

9. Understand what people want:

Bowser had taken multiple characters captive. He planned to sacrifice them in honor of Princess Peach at their wedding.

If you know Princess Peach, this is the last thing she would want. She didn’t want to see anyone hurt. She wanted to see people excel and live life.

When you understand what people want, you can help them get it. You won’t offer up something insane as Bowser did. Instead, you will find ways to give your people what they need.

Get to know your people. The more you do, the more you understand what they want.

10. Learn how to redirect:

Bowser launched a massive Bullet Bill at the Mushroom Kingdom. He wanted the massive character to obliterate the kingdom.

Mario wouldn’t have this. He donned a Tanooki Suit, transforming him into a raccoon-like creature that could fly.

Mario pursued Bullet Bill and tried to stop him. He couldn’t. 

Eventually, Mario decided to try to redirect Bullet Bill. He swung his tail at Bullet Bill, hitting him in the eye. This got Bullet Bill’s attention. 

Bullet Bill changed course. He left the Magic Kingdom to attack Mario. 

Redirect worked!

It’s easy to think that we need to take on issues directly. We have to put a stop to this kind of action or these kinds of thoughts

But what if you could redirect people and issues instead? You can.

When we learn how to redirect, we can avoid a lot of conflicts and put people in the right spot. Learn how to redirect people and their actions in the right way.

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