Leadership Lessons From the Lion King Part 2
As mentioned in my previous articles, I spent a Saturday getting leadership lessons from a day at the movies. Because Lion King was the first movie I saw and one of my favorites, I have much to share from it. In order to not overwhelm you, I will share my lessons in sets: Lessons for Young Leaders, Servant Leadership, and Personal Growth.
Last week I focused on lessons for young leaders, this week let’s look at Servant Leadership Lessons.
Lesson 1: “While others search for what they can take, a true king searches for what he can give.”
Sorry for the spoiler, but this is one of two quotes from the new Lion King that was not in the original animated film. In this statement to his son, Mufasa makes sure that Simba understands that true leadership is about serving.
Yesterday, I had the second conversation about a corporate leader who refused to take a risk for his team. Instead, he simply chose to say yes to his superiors and ask more than is reasonable of those who follow him. Unfortunately, I fear he will not only lose the productivity of his team, but their loyalty as well.
Leaders must be ready to stop thinking about their own needs, and instead consider always what is best for all. “I want” must be replace with “the mission dictates.” Only then will a true leader be able to lead his people to optimize their potential.
Lesson 2: When you help the hurting you might get a lion on your side.
Second, we must realize that the way to raising up other leaders around us is often found by helping those in greatest need. Timon and Pumbaa discover when they find a tired worn out cub on the edge of their domain, that it has the potential to become a lion. At first Timon wants to run, but in pure Timon and Pumbaa fashion, Pumbaa points out that if they help him, “Maybe he’ll be on our side,” and Timon takes credit for the idea.
The truth here is that you must see the lion in those who may only have “a little lion” in them. As a leader you can nurture a little lion into a magnificent, powerful leader. Then when other lions come to eat you, you will have a lion on your side.
This is Zig Ziglar’s famous quote in action, “If you want to get everything you want in life, help as many people as possible get what they want.”
Lesson 3: A small army can save a community.
Today, it seems so many of us are trying to gain the largest following possible. We believe that bigger is better. However, the Lion King, history, and even influencers of today will tell you, a small army can make a massive difference. When Simba decides it is his responsibility to return home and save the Pride Lands from the ravages of Scar, his uncle, Nala, Timon, and Pumbaa join him. Before the battle is fully engaged, they are joined by Rafiki who believes in their cause as well. Then when the fire burns brightest, all those who know that leadership must change, join the fight and defeat Scar and the Jackals.
When we seek to make changes to the culture around us, passion and clarity of vision are far more valuable than numbers. While you should not go into battle alone, the army you need can often be much smaller than you think. If your cause proves true and just others will rally to your side, and soon enough you will bring change to the community in which you live.
Lesson 4: A true king's power is his compassion.
In the original animated classic, Sarabi and Scar have an exchange of words, when the jackals have driven all the food from the Pride Lands and everyone is starving. In the new version, (spoiler alert) a new line was added to this exchange: “A true king’s power is his compassion.”
This thought fits so well with others shared in this article, but the strength of that statement bares repeating. True power, the ability to truly bring change, to affect others, and to lead vision, comes from compassion. Helping the weak, taking a stand for those you lead, standing together will require you to care. Your compassion will be the fuel for standing and fighting for what is right, even when the odds are against you.
In the words of John Maxwell, “No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” People follow leaders who take care of the tribe, the team, and the shared vision. If you want to lead well, you must let compassion be your guide.
Lesson 5: Confession is not weakness it is responsibility.
Servant leaders admit when they’re wrong.
For too long, leaders have viewed vulnerability as weakness. However, studies today show that vulnerability gives the strength to lead. (The Power of Vulnerability, Brene Brown, TED talks) The more we open ourselves up, the more we draw others in, into our vision, into our trust, into the hope of tomorrow. As Craig Groeschel, the leader of the largest church in America says, “People would rather follow a leader who is always real, than a leader who is always right.”
When we see leaders fail, we are not surprised, when they try to hide it, we are usually angered.
When the leader of a team, an organization, or a family is willing to stand and say, “I apologize,” without excuse or rationalization, our trust grows.
If you want to lead others well, it is not only ok, but important that you confess your mistakes. Everyone knows anyway, but your acknowledgement of your failures, breeds trust.
Servant leaders are those who will bring great change and lead great organizations. Choose to serve and choose relationship today.