I've been a Regina King fan since she played teenager Brenda on the 1980's sitcom 227. After watching the acceptance speech she gave on Sunday at the Golden Globes, I have a newfound respect for her as a leader.
King took to the stage to claim her award for her role as best supporting actress in the film If Beale Street Could Talk. King started off by giving thanks to a slew of people. Before relinquishing the microphone, she turned an arguably forgettable moment (how many award show acceptance speeches do you remember?) into a remarkable experience that many are still talking about days later.
Better yet, it also has the potential to impact the lives of many people for many years to come. Here are three leadership lessons we can all take from Regina King's three-minute speech, no matter what industry you are in:
1. Use your platform to stand up for what you believe in.
Whenever you have a prime opportunity placed in your lap, you must seize it -- especially if it involves using a global platform to advocate for an important cause. King, acknowledging the power of the platform and the moment, used it to plug gender equality, rather than just giving the standard "thank you's" that most people do when accepting an award:
"The reason why we do this is because we understand that our microphones are big and we are speaking for everyone. I'm going to use my platform right now to say, in the next two years, everything that I produce -- I'm making a vow and it's going to be tough -- to make sure that everything that I produce is 50 percent women."
As you build your business, you will grow a platform as well. When you use it strategically to advance the greater good, rather than just solely promoting your products, your leadership stance will draw your ideal customers closer to you.
2. Don't be deterred by others who want you to go away.
Award shows can be fun to watch. They can also be long and boring, which is why organizers work hard to hurry along acceptance speeches when they start to run long.
The team at the Golden Globe's did the same with King on Sunday night. The "wrap it up" music started to play just after King transitioned from her shout-outs into her gender equality message.
Undeterred, King powered through to say what was on her heart. After a few seconds, the music stopped -- something you rarely, if ever, see happen. Perhaps the organizers realized that what the actress had to say was more important than keeping their strict time schedule.
As you use your voice to stand up for causes and issues that are important to you, know that for a variety of reasons, there will be people who will want you to shut up and get off the stage. Moving people to action, especially on an important issue, involves shocking them out of their comfort zone.
To do that, you'll have to take bold action to seize the moments to say what needs to be said, and or do what needs to be done. Doing so may not always be comfortable for others.
Do it anyway.
3. Lead by example.
Regina King could have used her time to just talk about the problems that Hollywood has with gender equality. Instead, she wisely used it to declare what she was going to do to make sure more women had a seat at the table on the projects she will be producing.
Leaders take action. They don't expect others to do work, especially challenging work they aren't willing to do themselves. King used her speech to showcase that she was raising her hand to be a part of the solution.
Because the actress vowed to get in the trenches to improve gender equity, she earned the right to encourage other leaders to join the effort so even more progress can be made:
"And I just challenge anyone out there -- anyone out there who is in a position of power, not just in our industry, in all industries -- I challenge you to challenge yourselves and stand with us in solidarity and do the same."
Effective leaders inspire others to follow them -- and they'll do the work even if they have to stand alone in the beginning.
As you build your business, you'll quickly see a number of areas where transformational leadership, rather than sexy strategy and tactics, is what is most needed to grow. Embrace these three lessons from Regina King to become the kind of leader that moves others to take uncommon action to create and sustain positive change.
Watch her full speech here: