MANAGERIAL LESSONS FROM “THE LION KING”


In today’s world, it seems managerial skills seems to be thrown out of the window, in the golden pursuit of leadership skills. Where both collide, diverge or merge is not something I want to bother about. Is it just semantics? Well, I must admit that I do not know. However, just know that you will need effective managers to get things done, anywhere you are. People argue whether the legendary Jack Welch, that recently passed away, was a great manager or leader. As I earlier said, I do not know and do not engage in such arguments. It leads to no discernible wisdom, I must admit.

I will take a look at the managerial skills that I garnered from the movie, “The Lion King”. That movie is a gift that keeps giving. I have gleaned so much wisdom from it and want to share from it again. Maybe this is triggered by the book I just finished reading. The book is, “The Ride of A Life Time” by the immediate past CEO of Disney, Robert “Bob” Iger. He talked about the fact that Disney seems to go wherever its animation takes it. I am tempted to believe him. He waxed poetic about the works done by Disney Studios and the other acquisitions they made (PIXAR, StarWars and Marvel). Let’s go back to where we are coming from…The Lion King

The Lion King resonates with me on many levels. It is a playful way of sending a message across. I love the research that Disney made in understanding both the animal kingdom and also the African setting. Powerful dialogues and monologues that sends succinct messages in an uncluttered manner to discerning viewers. Here are what I think effective managers can learn from the movie:

Respect — Great managers respect their team members because they know everyone brings something to the table. Mufasa respected Scar. Let him be. Same with the bad guys. He seems to say to them, “we are not on the same lane but stay on your lane”. He respected the bad guys even those he did not agree with as per their modus operandi. They were given the “Elephant Graveyard” to themselves. Respect does not mean that I agree with your choices. It means that I acknowledge that is the path you are taking and let you be. Many argued that Mufasa should have taken Scar out since from Day 1. But life is never about life and death. Respect is “live and let’s live”.

Trust & Loyalty — This happened on many layers. Simba trusted Nala and vice versa. The young lions trusted and were loyal to Sarabi even when they knew it was to their disadvantage. Many felt Mufasa should have banished Scar, but then he trusted him instead. For the fact that Scar betrayed Mufasa does not make Mufasa foolish. Scar betrayed trust. Period! Betraying trust does not make the other party unwise. Think of it this way, if there were an attack on the kingdom, Mufasa would have needed help. He would also have needed help to train Simba. Who else understands the intricacies more than Scar. This may be the thought pattern that Mufasa relied on. In other kingdoms, there are those that lead a young king. They know that is their part and they play it. When you have the interest of the kingdom at heart, betraying trust will not come to you.

 

For the fact that Scar betrayed Mufasa does not make Mufasa foolish. Scar betrayed trust. Period! Betraying trust does not make the other party unwise. It shows weakness of character on the part of the betrayer.

 

Delegation — Siraba took care of the cubs, the other lions maintained the lot. Mufasa’s main job was to be the voice of the kingdom and also train the next generation. Everyone did their part in order to grow the kingdom to what it should be — a place where everyone contributed and benefitted. Prosperity reigned in the times of Mufasa and Simba when the focus was on the kingdom and not on selfish motives. Scar hardly delegated because he wanted to be in charge of everything. The only thing that he outsourced/delegated to his new allies was the security of the kingdom. They did their best but the selfish motives of having everything for themselves persisted and it finally led to a general revolt against their regime. When it was time for the young lions to rally, they rallied with the side that managed things better (Mufasa/Simba).

Care & Empathy — Mufasa deeply cared about Pride Rock. He wanted the best for the kingdom. That means he had to maintain order, structure and build from there. I recently read about Daniel and the King of Babylon in the Bible. One of the things that made Daniel stand out was that he worked for the interest of the king and the kingdom. He wanted nothing for himself. If the kingdom prospered, Daniel was fine. Same with Mufasa. It might have looked like he lived for the kingdom. Yes, he did and there is nothing wrong in that. It seems his motto was “Pride Rock First”. As such what he did was for Pride Rock; the mentoring of Simba, the care for the weaker animals, the protection of the kingdom, the circle of life philosophy was all about the preservation and prosperity of Pride Rock. Great managers lookout for the good of their corporations. They have “enterprise first” mentality.

Definiteness of Purpose — Defined purpose makes the journey to achievement doable. This is because you know where you are going. There may be detours but you know your goal. This act reminds me of my late grandmother, whom I grew up with. She told us that she has done her part in life and that phase of her life was to groom us. So that was it. She did not spare anything to either teach you a lesson or care for you. The outcomes of what she did were predicated on your behaviour. Once I begged a lady hawking the local pastries (akara – beancake … whatsoever you call it that makes you feel better). My grandmum bought the whole thing and made me eat all in one sitting. My dad came to my rescue but I learnt my lesson. Her purpose was to guide us for the betterment of our lives. One of the big definite purpose of Mufasa was to groom and mentor Simba. It was a definite purpose and he did not spare anything to do that.

Proven Character —A manager/leader must have an abundance of this even if it means that sometimes it comes at a great personal loss. My take is that Mufasa exhibited this and that was why Nala, the young lions and Sarabia refused to let go of his legacy. They wanted that kind of character to permeate the kingdom and as such, they stood up for it even when their lives were at stake. What you allow, grows. Even Pumba and Timon proved themselves when the time came. Proven character does not mean that you do not make mistakes or take wrong decisions. It means that after making these bad turns, you are ready to acknowledge and make amends where necessary.

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