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  • Writer's picturePolina changuleva

Embracing Inclusive Leadership: Lessons from Disney's New Movie, "The Little Mermaid"

Disney has a long-standing legacy of creating enchanting stories that captivate audiences of all ages. One of their latest cinematic endeavours, "The Little Mermaid," not only entertains but also offers valuable lessons on inclusive leadership. As we delve into the magical underwater world of Ariel and her friends, we discover powerful insights that can inspire us to become better leaders in our own lives. In this article, we will explore some of the key lessons on inclusive leadership that can be gleaned from this beloved Disney film.

Lesson 1: Embrace Diversity and Uniqueness

"The Little Mermaid" teaches us the importance of embracing diversity and celebrating our uniqueness. The underwater kingdom is populated with a diverse range of characters, each with their own distinct qualities, talents, and backgrounds. From Ariel, who dreams of exploring the human world, to Sebastian, the singing crab, and Flounder, the loyal fish companion, the movie showcases how diversity enriches a community. As leaders, we must create an environment where everyone feels valued, respected, and empowered to contribute their unique perspectives and talents.

Lesson 2: Challenge Stereotypes and Prejudices

The film challenges stereotypes and prejudices that can hinder inclusivity. Ariel defies the conventional roles assigned to mermaids and exhibits a strong sense of curiosity and ambition. Additionally, Sebastian, a character initially hesitant about change, learns to overcome his prejudices towards humans. As leaders, it is essential to recognize and challenge our own biases, creating an environment that encourages open-mindedness and allows individuals to break free from societal limitations.

Lesson 3: Foster Effective Communication

Communication plays a pivotal role in the journey of inclusivity. In "The Little Mermaid," Ariel's voice becomes a central symbol of her identity and desire for connection. Despite her initial inability to speak, she finds alternative ways to express herself, ultimately bridging the gap between the mermaid and human worlds. As leaders, we must be effective communicators, adapting our methods to ensure that all team members can express their thoughts, ideas, and concerns. By fostering open and inclusive communication channels, we encourage collaboration and strengthen relationships within our teams.

Lesson 4: Lead with Empathy and Compassion

"The Little Mermaid" emphasises the importance of leading with empathy and compassion. King Triton, Ariel's father, initially struggles to understand her desires and aspirations, but through empathy, he learns to support her choices. Similarly, Ariel demonstrates compassion by selflessly saving Prince Eric's life. As leaders, we must cultivate empathy and compassion for the individuals we lead, recognizing their needs, strengths, and challenges. By creating a nurturing environment where individuals feel understood and supported, we inspire loyalty and foster a sense of belonging.

Lesson 5: Embrace Change and Adaptability

Change and adaptability are essential qualities of inclusive leaders. In the film, Ariel and other characters face significant changes and challenges as they navigate the merging of the mermaid and human worlds. Their willingness to adapt and embrace the unknown leads to personal growth and transformation. As leaders, we must be open to change, embrace new perspectives, and create a culture that encourages continuous learning and development.

Disney's "The Little Mermaid" offers valuable lessons on inclusive leadership that can resonate with leaders in all walks of life. By embracing diversity, challenging stereotypes, fostering effective communication, leading with empathy and compassion, and embracing change and adaptability, we can create inclusive environments where individuals thrive and contribute their best. As we dive into the enchanting world of Ariel and her friends, let us be inspired to become leaders who uplift and empower those around us, just as Disney's timeless stories have inspired generations.

To have a conversation on your Inclusion strengths and weaknesses, reach out to the Same But Different team on or via the form at the bottom of our homepage.

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