What Do the Oscars Have to Do with Leadership?

Jun 11, 2020

I began my journey to become a Certified Master of The Leadership Challenge® just as the coronavirus pandemic began to sweep across the United States. As part of this journey, I watched a webinar on Learning Leadership: The Five Fundamentals of Becoming an Exemplary Leader in which Jim Kouzes shared the question he and Barry Posner receive most often, which is, “Are leaders born or made?” Jim said that in his research with Barry, only 0.00013% of people demonstrated no leadership abilities whatsoever. This incredible finding spurred me to look for ways in which The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® presented themselves in all types of settings.
Like most families during this global crisis, there were significant differences in the way my family coped. The four of us—myself, my husband, 12-year-old Piper, and 16-year-old Haru (our sweet puppy dog)—shared our time as a family by playing board games, watching movies,  and reading good books, just to name a few things. I thought we were adjusting well to our stay-at-home order until one day Piper said she “just didn’t have anything to look forward to.” She was missing her friends, going to school, and participating in her extracurricular activities.
I pondered how we could plan something to look forward to, and—by Challenging the Process—I came up with family-themed nights where each family member takes a turn planning a fun family evening. I anticipated doing such things as elaborate game nights, movies in the backyard, scavenger hunts, etc. Piper volunteered to go first.
I should have known from the beginning that she would exceed expectations! Piper is creative, theatrical, and very enthusiastic. The plans for our evening began to unfold when my husband and I received an official invitation to join the first Gibbons-Carney “Oscars” night. Piper included a red-carpet dress code along with a time to be ready for the fun to begin!  
And dress up, we did! Piper Modeled the Way by donning a beautiful red dress and pearls. We followed her lead and dressed in our very finest too. I wore my grandmother’s fur coat, and my husband looked dashing in his dress slacks and button-down.
Piper prepared a fabulous dinner and then dazzled us with a beautiful Oscars presentation during which she Encouraged the Heart—individually and uniquely recognizing each of us, including Haru, who won an Oscar for “most therapeutic.” We attended an Oscars after-party where we danced, played trivia, laughed, and had fun! At the end of the night, Piper helped me post pictures on Facebook showing off our fun evening in the hope that others might replicate this creative, exciting night of family bonding.
As I sit back and reflect on the night, it is clear to me that Jim was right—anyone can be a leader, and Piper definitely proved she is one!
As you think through the story above, consider asking yourself:

  1. Which of The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership did you see Piper demonstrate?
  2. During the coronavirus pandemic, how have you observed others displaying The Five Practices? Consider examples outside of when you would normally expect to see leadership skills exhibited. How did that impact you?
  3. As you go forward, how can you be cognizant of finding The Five Practices demonstrated in unlikely situations?

Kim Gibbons is a consultant with iLead Consulting & Training, an LPI® Trained Coach, a Certified Facilitator of the Leadership Challenge, and a soon-to-be Certified Master-in-Training. She recently retired from the State of Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, where she initiated a strategy for deep culture change using The Leadership Challenge as the foundation to create a shared language and a shared experience for over 500 leaders. Kim can be reached at [email protected].

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