Leadership Lessons From The 2012 Academy Awards

While Joan and Melissa Rivers commented on Oscar styles, Master Admissions focused on the lessons for leadership, especially for those thinking about applying to business school, a job, or accepting an international award.

Here are five takeaways from the Oscars that will resonate with MBA wannabees, MBA graduates, or those trying to impress their boss or work team.

1. Have a brand, but be humble: The Oscars are known for glitz and glamour, not for authentic emotions. Some say the same for MBAs, who have a reputation for being overly impressed with themselves. So even if the odds are in your favor as they were for Octavia Spencer, who won the Best Supporting Actress award forThe Help, show your humility. Be honest, and remember it’s ok to make slips, like thanking the entire state of Alabama. It shows humanity too, and being yourself is a powerful way to command respect.

2.  DON’T go overboard on what you show and how you show it: Angelina Jolie didn’t need to strike a pose, and when she did, leg and all, she played the fool. She opened herself up to ridicule, so much so that @AngiesRightLeg has garnered over 32,000 followers on Twitter and even showed up on the Today Show. If you know your stuff and are a pro (and Angie should be), then don’t fall into the trap of showboating your talents.

3.  Use your age to your advantage: Christopher Plummer, winner of the Best Supporting Actor award, had no apologies about his 82 years, showing the world that he was hardly over the hill.  Grace, maturity, and a sense of humor about yourself will always add to the conversation. That’s what diversity is about. And take note! He beat out a young buck playing a recent number-crunching Harvard grad in Moneyball. Remember that youth doesn’t always prevail.

4. Give credit where credit is due: Meryl Streep thanked her husband first and her hair and makeup guy second. She showed leadership by broadening the spotlight to include her important teammates. For someone who absorbs her characters so completely, she shows up in public as exactly who she is. Streep’s confidence and self awareness shows a special kind of emotional intelligence: she makes people feel comfortable around her, even when she is winning. And we love her for it.

5. When in doubt, go global: While the Oscars are held in Hollywood, the stage was international. The show was broadcast live to 225 countries worldwide, some of whom had reason to cheer. France claimed the prize for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor, and it was great to see Iran win its first Oscar. And then, there’s nothing like surprising the world with a talent that no one knew you had. When Sandra Bullock took to the stage and introduced the nominees in fluent German, we all said “Wow!”

These lessons are a good reminder that leadership shows up whether you are honored for your accomplishments or for letting the spotlight shine on your colleague. The world is a stage,  and let’s face it: we all have a little Hollywood in us.

By Betsy Massar, Havard Business School graduate and founder of Master Admissions. Master Admissions acts as a campaign manager and champion, setting you up for success in applying to your top-choice business schools. Visit masteradmissions.com for a free consultation with Betsy Massar.

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