SERIES: Movies That Teach

Animated movies may not be the first resource that comes to mind when looking for leadership tips, but it turns out they’ve got quite a bit to say on the topic. Here are five wildly popular animated movies with leadership lessons we can learn from.

The Lion King: With great power comes great responsibility

Who hasn’t been fascinated by the majestic picture Mufasa cut against Pride Rock as all the animals sang ‘Circle of Life’? Mufasa was the ultimate leader. Despite being a lion and a predator, he had equal amounts of respect for all the animals in his land as he knew every single creature had a place and a purpose. The same applies to leading a team: knowing what each team member contributes and treating everyone with the same level of respect are the keystones of good leadership.

Mulan: Balance is key

It can be nerve-wracking to be a new leader, to suddenly face more responsibilities, including being responsible for other people. We’re sometimes tempted to extreme behaviours in order to keep our subordinates in line and be taken seriously. Following the departure of his father in Mulan, Shang was unexpectedly promoted to a leadership position with no prior experience or time to prepare. Almost as soon as he takes up his role, he’s faced with adversity, but with a firm hand and belief in his own abilities, he efficiently deals with the naysayers and proves himself a capable leader. Shang teaches us that being a good leader means striking the right balance between aggressively driving the team forward and showing genuine respect and appreciation for their efforts.

Toy Story: Think of the consequences before making decisions

Our next character is a bit more flawed than the previous two and a lot more human despite being a toy cowboy. Woody was his owner, Andy’s, favourite and the undisputed leader among the toys until Buzz Lightyear came along. The two clashed and Woody, in an attempt to preserve his position as top dog, decides to get rid of Buzz. As a result of this selfish and ill-conceived decision, he loses the trust and respect of the other toys. Taking a step back, assessing a situation and thinking through how a decision will affect your team and business are crucial to good leadership.

How To Train Your Dragon: Don’t let pride rule you

It can be incredibly difficult to admit you’re wrong, doubly so when you’re the boss and everyone is relying on you to make the right decision. Pride can be a dangerous thing, as Stoick the Vast learns in How To Train Your Dragon. It took dire straits for him to acknowledge the fact that he was wrong, but he did so graciously, ultimately helping his son and the dragons prevail over the enemy. Knowing when you’ve made the wrong decision and acknowledging it is the first step towards good leadership.

Monsters Inc.: Have a vision

The best leaders are those who have a goal that they are striving to achieve. Something they want to change, or do, that will help them make their mark in the company or the industry. Sully and Mike are great examples of leaders who worked towards a goal and effectively changed their entire world. When he befriended ‘Boo’, a human child, Sully begins to realise how much damage monsters actually do to children by scaring them each night for their own selfish needs. It’s his conviction that something needed to change that led to them finding a solution; one that not only made children happier, but made the rest of the monsters happy as well. A vision, and your conviction in that vision, can help rally the troops and induce passion in their work.

Have you already watched these movies? Or did we just convince you to go out and rent the DVDs? Let us know what other animated movies you can think of that teach us about leadership!

Missed last month's 'Movies That Teach' post? https://blog.airwallex.com/5-business-lessons-we-can-learn-from-romantic-comedies/