3 Lessons Learned From Lion King for the Workplace


I’m in Vegas this week, but not for the reasons you might think.  My husband, Greg is here on business, and it also happens to be my daughter, Ryleigh’s third birthday.  We didn’t feel like it was fair for us to be apart on such an important day for Ryleigh so I made the trip with Greg, Ryleigh, and my mother in law in tow.  I’ve yet to pull a single solitary slot machine or throw some dice.  You see, gambling is really not my thing.  In the last 12 months, I’ve been to Vegas 6 times, and gambling seems to have lost its luster.  Vegas happens to be the conference capital of the world and is my second home as of late.  In fact, I’ve written about Vegas and a few of the conferences I’ve attended here and here.


What I do love about Vegas are the shows, and last night we watched The Lion King for the first time.  It was truly magical and of course tears were shed by me within the first 1o minutes.  I also can’t shut off my blogger brain of mine to save my life (it’s nearly 2 Am as I write this), and I began to make the correlation between the Lion King and lessons learned when it comes to working, leadership, and human capital management at your workplace.

  • The Importance of Succession Planning. Mufasa’s Pride learned the hard way as Simba was not ready to take his rightful place as CEO.  Thirty-five percent of companies have a CEO succession plan in place.  That means that 65% do not.  It’s safe to think that if an organization doesn’t have a succession plan in place for their CEO, they’re not likely to have one for other key positions within their organization.  Failing to plan for that eventuality when your leader is no longer there to guide your organization can quickly send your organization’s team, your stock price, and company earnings into a free fall.  Companies like Apple planned ahead  with their CEO human capital management strategy before they happened.  Maybe you should too.
  • Politics Especially of the Office Variety are Never Easy.  While some might think that office politics is about building business relationships, it can inhibit organization and department productivity.  Scar spent so might time scheming and politicking, he lost sight of his grand plan.  It’s hard to choose sides as an individual and sometimes risky to align yourself within different subcultures or players (like Scar) of an organization.  A boss of mine, Bill  just had a knack for navigating the organizational political waters.  Some called is slacking while others called it a fine art.  Personally, I knew he was hanging on by his finger nails politicking his way to retirement.  Choose your alliances and relationships wisely or you just might end up like the hyenas getting thrown under the bus when your leader lands in the hot seat.
  • Working with Family Members is a Recipe for Drama.  While I’ve never worked with a family member in a workplace, nepotism has its place in some business environments.  I had a very short voluntary tenure  working at a family owned business when I first moved to Oklahoma City.  The owner’s brother was a regional sales manger with a dirty mouth, a drug problem, and a habit of sexually harassing anything remotely female within a 200 foot radius.  It’s not just working with a family member that is a problem but working with employees who work with family members can be equally taxing.  I just didn’t have the stomach to work for an organization where the good old boy’s network involved drug abuse, a blatant disregard for things like I-9’s and other not so fun HR-related things.  Consolidating the 401(k) monthly is not something I like to think of as a good time even if it happens to be over cocktails.

The entire show was amazing and Ryleigh stayed awake for all but 20 minutes of the entire 3 hour production.  I’m very blessed to have such an amazing little person who enjoyed the show just as much as I did.  Luckily for her, she wasn’t formulating blog posts like me.   Instead she was dreaming, digesting, and enjoying the atmosphere.  I’m one lucky momma.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.

Reader Interactions


  1. Josiah says

    That was a really great show. I remember when the tour stopped at OKC, I was “iffy” about going to watch it. Luckily, the reception was so great that the crew decided to stick in town for another week, otherwise I would have totally missed out. My ticket was at the balcony, and even though I couldn’t see quite as much as folks who were, say like front row, it was still possible to see most of the stuff and the sound was amazing as well. I wouldn’t think twice about going to watch it if it came back this way.


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