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Leadership Lessons from Looney Tunes?

The Blog



Leadership Lessons from Looney Tunes?

Scott Alexander

I have always been a fan of the classic Looney Tunes cartoons. I think most of us can envision Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck going back and forth, adamantly trying to convince Elmer Fudd it is in fact, “Rabbit season, no Duck season, no Rabbit reason”, while Elmer just stands there with his gun looking confused, and no-doubt waiting for the others to decide which one will lose out. There are countless Looney Tunes scenarios that we all can connect with, but why is that I wonder? 

I think it’s because within all interactions, we can learn how a leader emerges, whether observing those around us, or yes, even watching cartoons…

Tweety Bird looked pretty helpless. A small Canary in a cage. Completely powerless against Sylvester the cat, right? Tweety is the ultimate example of the massive power that comes with the ability to influence. Tweety skillfully uses his influence to save himself, by ultimately getting Granny to bop Sylvester over the head with a broom. Tweety had an accurate knowledge about himself and often used his helplessness not as a weakness, but as a tool for success.

Bugs Bunny was indeed the true example of fighting smarter, not harder. The scenario always began the same way. Bugs was a rabbit that found himself at the end of a gun. But episode after episode he became the leader, not by finding a gun of his own, but by remaining completely calm, listening carefully, and then transforming his situation using the knowledge he had gained to his benefit.

Elmer Fudd teaches us that confidence in your purpose is key to success. Poor Elmer only had one mission, but became easily distracted and set off course by Bugs and Daffy. The bottom line is, if you’re, “hunting wabbits”, hunt rabbits. If you see a rabbit, but the sign suddenly says “Duck Season”, stay focused on the rabbit. Life brings us many distractions, and a good leader can only emerge when we remain true to our purpose.

Daffy Duck provides a much-needed reminder for us all. If you only look for what you alone can get out of a situation, you will end up with nothing. In his words, “Consequences, schmonsequences, as long as I’m rich”. Daffy Duck’s self-focus didn’t allow for him to be the leader he wanted to be. We can never lead if all we serve is our own ego.

Yosemite Sam tried over and over again to blowup any roadblock that got in his way. He teaches us that if you fill a room with dynamite, you’re probably the one holding the match. It’s all about perspective and a good leader learns to keep their wits about them when presented with a situation that’s frustrating, or else, “Boom”… your situation becomes much more complicated.

As for Wile E Coyote. Well this one’s pretty clear. There are simply no shortcuts in life. To get our desired outcome and emerge as a leader we have to look at the whole picture without trying to find the quickest route. If we live by shortcuts, the truth will eventually catch up to us, and in the coyote’s case, this was often gravity.

In our pursuit to be our best selves, the leader we aspire to be, the lesson here is truly transformational. There is always something to learn from nearly everything around us, if we simply open our eyes to that possibility.