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And the Envelope Please…


Few leaders are tested on as big a stage or under as bright a spotlight as Jordan Horowitz and Fred Berger, the producers of LaLa Land, who in a split-second decision, transferred their award to those who made Moonlight.

How many of us could….

  • Graciously pass off a prestigious new contract we’d been awarded to a competitor after being told ‘it was a mistake’? or
  • Generously and genuinely congratulate a colleague who received a job or promotion we were promised?

Under these circumstances, it would be very challenging to rise above the personal disappointment and tap into our higher selves. But that’s exactly what Horowitz and Berger did—instantaneously and on stage before the entire world. And in that moment, they exemplified the highest qualities of leadership.

  • Mindfulness – They were perfectly present and able to process the complex and mixed messages they were receiving—and respond appropriately.
  • Fairness – Their default setting was reasonableness and justice. They naturally did what was right in the moment.
  • Selflessness – They suspended their own interests in service of others and a greater purpose.
  • Generosity – Horowitz’s immediate response, “I’m going to be really proud to hand this to my friends from Moonlight” sent a strong signal to his entire team and demonstrated a profound generosity of spirit.

In years to come, few will remember the film that won top honors this year; but everyone will remember the leaders who graciously relinquished an award and generously bestowed it upon others. At the end of the day, the real winners of this year’s Oscars are all of us who were inspired by such a timely model of leadership.


  1. Mr. Horowitz may have been genuinely gracious, but it looks as if backstage somebody had played an award-sharing, snatch-it-anyway, for-profit trick. With such optics and buzz, both productions can now grumble all the way to the bank. Sigh…

    • Wow…that would have been quite a trick. But you might be right. Regardless, I respect his demonstration of grace and generosity… and I’d like to see more examples of this kind of leadership both in the media and in the workplace.


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