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5 Leadership lessons I have learned from animation movies

This blog may or may not contain spoilers. Proceed with caution. This is not just for managers or team leaders, but also for anyone who wants to grow personally and professionally.

1. Madagascar Escape 2 Africa

(No spoilers. Go ahead! Must watch.)

I would have watched this scene alone like 1000 times. It for sure will give you a great laugh in whatever mood you are in! More than fun it teaches a very important lesson on how a leader should be.

Rewatch the whole video with your concentration on how the Captain Penguin, Skipper handles the whole situation and the team. The way he stays calm, composed and cool through the whole crash landing situation is something that inspires me the most.

Other things we can learn from him are,

  1. The way he communicates with the team. Crystal clear on what he needs. Asking for their opinion too and in the end, he is the one who takes the decision.
  2. The way he communicates with the client (the other animals, who without any choice had to choose AirPenguin. 😉
  3. He has a solid plan for the worst case. And knows how to execute it with the team he has.
  4. After the crash, he analyses and asks for the report. He thanks and appreciates the whole team. And celebrates the victory with the team.
  5. And now after the fun, he gets right back to the next thing to do. Fix the plane. Not only that he knows how to FIX, but he also has a clear plan for that and consults the team to give an estimate.
  6. When you notice closely, as the lion(Alex) starts to question/bother Skipper on how he came up with the estimate, he doesn't waste his time arguing or fighting with him. He gets back to work. Getting the team started on fixing the plane.
  7. Should I say more about how he shuts up the lion? Watch and learn! 😜
  8. And at last, he hires mammals for their opposable thumbs. You need to have a diversified team, with varied required skill sets. Be open to work with people from different backgrounds.
  9. If you notice none of his team members panic throughout the whole crash landing. Guess why? Because they have got a leader who has all the above characteristics. So they TRUST him.

Whoever has created the Skipper character is a genius! Who said penguins can't fly.

2. Kungfu Panda

(Yup, some spoiler ahead)

When Panda(Po) gets chosen as "The Dragon Warrior" Shifu worries how the Panda will ever be ready to face Tai Lung, the villain. But as the movie proceeds, he learns that Po can't be trained the way he has trained all the other students. He has his own way of learning and motivation.

The way he teaches Kungfu to Po is for sure one of the best-written scenes.

Lesson learned: Not everyone is the same. Everyone has their own way of learning and their own pace of doing it. As a leader, your job is to discover that and help them grow accordingly.

3. Frozen 2

(Definite spoiler)

As Frozen 2 movie opens, you will see a perfectly happy situation where Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Sven and Olaf are together and Arendelle people are happy.

But you will soon know how much Elsa feels out of place, because of the power that grows inside. And when a voice calls out, she is afraid to follow it as she is going to have to take the risk of leaving all her loved ones. This song captures her feeling perfectly.

Anyway, she follows the voice and everyone is set for an adventure and all that. And in the end, she finds the place where she truly belongs.

Though it is hard to accept because Anna and Else are at two different places now, they are at the places where they can be their bests. Sometimes you would have to come out of your comfort zone and brave the odds.

Lesson learned: Step out of your comfort zone, that is where the great things happen.

4. Kungfu Panda 2

(Spoiler again)

In the end when Po attains inner peace and defeats the peacock,

Shifu: Well, it seems you have found inner peace at such a young age.

(He is surprised that Po has attained inner peace at the very young age, because at the beginning of the movie, Shifu explains how some have to meditate for 50 years to find inner peace or go through a lot of pain and suffering.)

Though the way Shifu says it is kind of envious, he is really happy that Po has attained inner peace earlier.

When you are manager/team leader you oftentimes find the junior people/ freshers being more talented than you are. And if you don't accept that neither of you can grow. Rather than being envious, you learn from them and also help them learn other sides of things that they are not master in, that is when as a whole, everyone grows.

And BTW this is what Po replies.

Po: I had a pretty good teacher. (read it as Leader!)

5. Wall - e

(Spoiler! Spolier! Spoiler!)

Though the movie's core revolves around Wall-e and Eva, let's take a step back and look at Axiom. The ship the humans live in, all so comfortable. They need not even stand up. Everything is at the arm's reach. You need not work. Doesn't that sound perfect place? Yes!

When Captain McCrea says that the Earth is sustainable and they have to return, the AUTO robot says "just follow the directive". For 700 years the AUTO has been running the ship based on the given directive. Now the real captain, Captain McCrea goes against the rules. He is not afraid to change the process. He says he doesn't want to survive he wants to live.

Lesson learned: Don't be afraid to change the process when it is not working out or when you want to improve. Just because something has been around for a long time doesn't mean it should always be that way.



(Definitely spoiler. If you haven't watched this movie yet, close the tab immediately.)

This is a lesson on how a leader should not be.

In this movie, you can obviously see how Mayor Lionheart from the beginning is treating the assistant mayor, Bellweather(the lamb) so poorly. It is obvious that she mostly does paperwork and menial jobs while Lionheart is somewhat of a glory hound who dumps the work on her and gets every attention.

This is one of the reasons she hates Predators and wanted to take over. Think, had he treated her with the respect she deserves it would have for sure changed her whole perspective about the predators.

Lesson learned: Treat people with respect, regardless of their designation.

This I learned from my manager, Shan. Even while talking he refers to employees as people and not as resources. Would you ever write in your resume that you are a very good, say NodeJS resource?

All these are easier said than done. Yes, life is complex and leadership is difficult. But I just hope we can remind ourselves these every now and then.

Also, I believe this post has inspired you to watch animation movies. The animation moviemakers are really ingenious! I just can't tell how much these movies have inspired/motivated me.

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