Our world changes rapidly, as the events of the last few days have proved. With the passing of Queen Elizabeth II there are many things that could be said about her amazing reign, not least the length of it. To honour Queen Elizabeth II, I want to focus on the fact that Her Majesty was someone who knew that leading well would leave a lasting legacy. There is much to learn from the way in which Her Majesty led.
Last Friday I presented a talk around the uncertainty and complexity of the workplace you operate in. In such an environment good leadership is paramount. The ability to lead and at the same time remain authentic is something the Queen did very well. Even at the age of 21 she said:
“I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.” Queen Elizabeth II
As young as she was at that time, Queen Elizabeth understood that those you lead deserve to be led well. As has been said here more than once if you are to lead well then it must be done intentionally. Good leadership is no accident.
What can we glean from the way Queen Elizabeth led?
Royal lessons in leadership
- Values matter – when you think about the Queen’s life it is not difficult to pick out the values she stood by. Service stands out as a strong value throughout her reign. Service or looking towards the betterment of others draws people in and makes your motives for leading clear. The Queen knew that a lifetime of service is built one day at a time. The faith she had in God was often mentioned in her Christmas messages. All leaders need a strong foundation on which to stand, the Queen was no different.
- Good advisors – The Queen has a good inner circle around her. All successful leaders need a strong inner circle of people from whom they can draw wise counsel, encouragement and, when needed, challenge.
- Resilience – the Queen experienced great challenges during her reign. In the face of those challenges, she did not give up. Her consistency was a hallmark of her reign. The question faced by leadership is not whether challenge or failure will come but rather what your reaction will be when they do. Her Majesty’s resilience in the face of change and challenge is an inspiration to keep going.
“When life seems hard, the courageous do not lie down and accept defeat; instead, they are all the more determined to struggle for a better future.” Queen Elizabeth II Christmas broadcast, 2008.
- Duty – it is not something as in vogue these days, but it was something that drove the Queen and kept her going. You saw that vividly as she welcomed in the 15th Prime Minister to serve her only two days before her death. We can at times believe life should be easier, however the fact is life is difficult. It is once we embrace that fact that we can see beyond it. As John Maxwell quotes: “Everything worthwhile is uphill.” It is a good reminder that nothing which matters in life is easy. When challenges and crisis arise, they reveal the character of your leadership.
Queen Elizabeth was a remarkable lady. There is much to learn from her life. For me she was an inspiration, and I hope this small reflection on her leadership inspires you too.
“I cannot lead you into battle. I do not give you laws or administer justice but I can do something else – I can give my heart and my devotion to these old islands and to all the peoples of our brotherhood of nations.” Queen Elizabeth II