Leadership Lessons from the Golden Globes

The Golden Globes on Sunday celebrated the best creative talents in Hollywood. With all the glitz and glamour, it’s easy to forget that these celebrities are driven, competitive, and accomplished leaders in television and the movies.

Here are six lessons about leadership gleaned from the Golden Globes’ illustrious winners.

Plan Ahead—and Plan for Flexibility

Perhaps the biggest winner of the night, the movie Boyhood earned three Golden Globes, including one for Richard Linklater for Best Director. In creating the ambitious movie, Linklater modeled remarkable foresight by filming over 12 years with the same cast.

The result is the culmination of a grand vision that is fully realized despite unpredictable changes in technology, financing, and culture. “I knew the last shot of the movie by year two,” Linklater said, “but the details of it were in flux and pretty open to whatever came up.” Like any smart leader, Linklater set a goal and a rough plan, but rather than overplan and micromanage, he worked with his team to resolve smaller details as needed and in real-time.

Gush With Gratitude

No one leads alone. Great leaders are backed by extraordinary teams. Leaders are able to accomplish remarkable feats in part because of what they get done through others.

Even with just seconds at the microphone, the night’s winners took the time to thank their cast and crew, and also all those who inspired or supported them along the way.

Golden Globes host Amy Poehler is a model of gratitude. Her advice for leaders: “Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you. Spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life. No one is here today because they did it on their own.”

Network, Network, Network

The first part of successful networking is to show up. Leaders never stop networking. Even Joaquin Phoenix, who once memorably derided the Hollywood awards season, came to his senses and returned to the Golden Globes (and was fittingly mocked by hosts Amy Poehler and Tina Fey).

The second part of successful networking is to meet everyone. When the Golden Globes cut to commercial break, the entire room of celebrities hustled to cram in a few minutes of schmoozing. Even celebrities at the top of their game took the time to network.

Leaders don’t just network with people they already know—they seek out the people they want to meet and also the new faces in the room. Treat everyone you network with as if they are important. You never know if this year’s ingénue will become next year’s breakout star.

Always Be Improving

Leaders don’t measure themselves just by their most recent success, they continually strive for the even greater success yet to come. With dozens of awards, including two Oscars and now, finally, a Golden Globe for Best Performance as an Actor in a Television Series Drama for “House of Cards,” Kevin Spacey seems like he couldn’t possibly get better at what he does.

Yet, in his acceptance speech, Spacey modestly demonstrated how even the most successful people are driven to keep improving: “As I stand here tonight as someone who has enjoyed such an extraordinary career, and in large measure because of the people in this room—I just want to be better, I just want to be better, but this [award] is very encouraging.”

Take Risks

Great leaders are not limited by the conventional. They embrace risk when the potential reward is truly worthwhile.

Not only did Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos take a risk by launching an unconventional series about a transgender woman, but the creator and executive producer, Jill Soloway, made sure that risk taking was also embedded in the show’s culture. Soloway said, “I come to work with this feeling of creating a safe space for everybody to take risks, so what you end up with is what it looks like to see people taking risks.”

The risk taking paid off. The show made history when Amazon.com became the first online streaming service to win the Golden Globe for Best Series for “Transparent.”


After the nerve-jangling award ceremony, Hollywood celebrates. Leaders can take a tip from the red carpet after parties and make sure to shine the spotlight on their teams. Express your gratitude by buying a round of drinks and, most importantly, by saying thank you to everyone involved.

Lauren Girardin is a marketing and communications consultant, writer, and trainer. Find her on Twitter at @girardinl.

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Mackenzie Wiley

This is fantastic! There’s so much more to see at these awards shows if you can get past the glittery gowns and dapper tuxedoes!

Lauren Girardin

I was just looking back at this post to psych myself up for learning something from the Oscars this weekend. I’m hoping to find something worth sharing.

Mark Brubeck

This is great information and I agree with everything, except possibly taking Risk. Although I do agree with taking risk, I would state there is a difference in acceptable risk and just throwing caution to the wind. In the Tech savvy world we live in it is easy to do some data mining and research and balance gains and losses. Although I think a certain amount of risk is necessary I would have to say that there is an art in managing that risk so you don’t end up living in a box or a NY subway if your plan goes south. Maybe that is a bit conservative, but as I have explained to my children you must always have a backup plan and a emergency exit.

Lauren Girardin

I agree that risk for risk’s sake is not worthwhile in most circumstances. That’s why the leadership lesson I share is really about embracing risk when the potential reward is truly worthwhile. It’s all about that magic formula of risk versus reward.