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4 Important Leadership Lessons from the Lion King

As soon as the new version of the Lion King it came out, I took my 4-year old son to see it. This was going to be his first experience at a movie theater, so I thought this was the perfect chance for everyone:

Great movie = Entertained kid!

I was very excited to see this new version, especially looking forward to hearing Beyonce and Seth Rogen’s voices in it! I had seen the movie before, but this time, I kept seeing great examples of Leadership, and I'm sharing them here.

Here are, 4 important lessons of leadership from the Lion King.

1) When compassion blinds you from the facts

Scar, the King’s brother, proved himself to be disloyal to the community and very selfish, Mufasa, as his brother, naturally felt sorry for him.There is a line in the movie that says “A true king’s power is his compassion”. However, in this case, Mufasa put compassion for this brother above the well-being of the entire kingdom. His adviser tells him that the best is to “get him out”, but he didn’t listen and well...I don’t want to spill the beans in case you haven’t seen it, but it doesn’t go well!

How many chances are we giving to those that are not good for the team?Those who have received many chances to improve, but continue to show a lack of interest in the mission and values of the organization.

In cases like this, we have to make sure our compassionate hearts as leaders do not blind us from making the best decisions for our business and teams as a whole.

2) When you don’t get what leadership is really about…

One of the parts I enjoyed the most is when young Simba is singing the song “I Just Can’t Wait to be King.” It’s an amazing soundtrack with a lot of funny parts, but the lyrics really tell the story of a young leader that doesn’t really understand what being a leader is really about. He can’t wait to be King so he “does not get told what to do, where to look or go” and that “kings don’t need advice”.

This is interesting (and funny at the same time) because lots of people have misconceptions of what being in leadership is about. They believe that becoming “The Boss” is having the power to make the decisions they want, and have all the freedom they desire. If you are a great leader, you understand how far from the truth this is!

Simba eventually learned what leadership is really about - listening to his people, going beyond his comfort zone to make changes in the community, and understanding that “decision making power” is not something to take lightly.

3) When it’s time to shift people’s moods and mindsets

One of my favorite characters in the movie was Pumbaa, and let me just say that we all need someone like that in life - Someone that encourages you to move forward, leave the past behind and focus on the future.

When Simba is sad and ashamed, Pumbaa is relentless about teaching him his “Problem-Free Philosophy - Hakuna Matata”. Pumbaa shares how he came from lots of shame but decided to adopt a new life mentality to live worry-free and enjoy life. His energy is so contagious that eventually Simba gets excited about this new way of living and starts singing and dancing with everyone else.

Leaders help shift mindsets and lift people’s spirits when they can’t do it on their own - Just like Pumbaa did!

4) When you have to fight to win

Simba’s path to reclaim what was his was difficult. He believed for so long that he was to blame for his father’s death. When he was back, he got to see the devastation of his town and even experienced seeing his mother being hit by Scar, the bad guy.

He got there ready to take his place peacefully, but of course that didn’t happen and everyone ended up fighting.

When I sit and think about Simba’s arrival at home, it was hard for him to explain why he was gone for so long, but his shame was exposed by, you guessed it, the bad guy (Scar). He got Simba to experience all the shameful past again, which got him to lose focus and power, right there, in front of everyone.

Scar was an expert at manipulating others, and he was able to do that with Simba to a point where he almost lost his life. Bad leaders though, are filled with the type of ego that gets on their way eventually, and he confessed to Simba, right before he was about to fall and die, how he (Scar) was the one that had the pleasure of killing his dad.

That was enough for Simba and he got strength from where he didn’t know he had to get himself up and fight.

The route to success and great leadership is a path - A Lifelong one. There are so many mistakes to be made, so many moments of shame, but it is important that we take them as lessons to become wiser and better leaders for ourselves and others.

Let’s not allow ourselves to feel so ashamed that we lose all of our power and feel so weak that taking action becomes an impossible dream.

Remember who you are and your purpose.


Leadership is everywhere, you just have to set your mindset to stay tuned to it. For me, it was an amazing experience to catch these examples in a movie made for the entire family. Sometimes you don’t know where your inspiration is going to come from. I highly recommend you to go see it soon and catch these examples of leadership and many others I might have missed!

Hakuna Matata everyone!

Mariana Jaeger is a Leadership Development and Performance Success expert and has successfully trained, mentored and coached hundreds of people in her career. To learn more about Mariana, click here

Mariana Jaeger


Austin, Texas based, serving clients globally.

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