On Sunday 5th June 2022, Elizabeth II will become the first British monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee. This is a celebration marking a massive 70 years of service.
Reigning over fourteen different prime ministers so far, Queen Elizabeth II has seen some incredible global changes during the time she has sat on the throne. Yet she’s come through with a broadly excellent reputation.
So what can we learn from someone who has held a leadership role for seven decades?
Even those of us with marginally more mundane engineering or IT jobs can learn lessons from someone who has been the head of an entire country for seventy years.
Leadership lessons we can learn from Queen Elizabeth II
1) Lead by example
You won’t find many people in their nineties who still choose to work a 40-hour week or close to it. Her Majesty still does.
Nor has all of this work been of the purely ceremonial variety. Back in World War II, when action was called for, the then-Princess Elizabeth joined the ATS (the Auxiliary Territorial Service) as a driver and mechanic despite not in any way needing to.
These are both instances of the kind of leading by example that leaders in all organisations could benefit from.
2) Put the team before yourself
Being “the boss” isn’t about being the person who shouts loudest. Queen Elizabeth’s leadership style is usually reserved, subtle – even mindful, in its way.
Her Majesty’s attitude has always shown that the team (that’s the people of Britain, in Her case) comes first.
Putting this into action ourselves could mean prioritising your team’s well-being over the demands of a difficult client. It could also mean doing the hard work alongside or before your team.
3) Be personal as well as professional
Queen Elizabeth II has reached out personally to people in many “never before” situations during Her reign.
For example, she was the first reigning British monarch to visit Australia. In fact, she has personally visited 52 of the 54 Commonwealth States during Her time on the throne.
This personal though still professional touch has bridged boundaries and, in the Queen’s case, staved off a great deal of opposition to the monarchy.
Whether you believe that’s a good thing or a bad, it’s still a great example of how reaching out in person can have a powerful effect.
4) Balance your interventions
As a leader, your opinion can carry a lot of weight. It can take experience to learn when the right time to throw that weight into a discussion can be.
Elizabeth II has a history of offering what often amounts to gentle encouragement or reservations rather than strong opinions. This has only ever really been highlighted on perhaps the only occasion she failed to do so.
This came during the Scottish referendum, when Her Majesty’s honest private opinion was broadcast to the wider world. This did, to cut a long story short, not go down well in many circles.
Despite often having an opinion on a subject, a leader must decide judiciously whether it’s the right time to intervene. Or when it might be better not to personally address the matter at all.
5) Accept and take the lead on change
In the nearly seventy years since Queen Elizabeth II first put on the crown, she has accepted major global changes such as decolonisation and a much smaller British role in the world with a dignity not always reflected by other world leaders.
When it comes to technological change, she has also been something of a leader. She insisted that Her 1953 coronation be televised (decidedly not traditional at the time) over the objections of Winston Churchill. She was also one of the first heads of state to send an email.
This is another important leadership lesson we can learn from Queen Elizabeth II. When it comes to everything from technological change to the state of the industry we’re in, it’s always better to accept that change head-on and take the lead.
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