The Queen is a quite remarkable leader, so I decided to try to find out why. My shelves are packed with business and management books that get nowhere near capturing this 90-year-old’s secret. In one person we see an invaluable combination of enquiring mind, focus, hard work and interest in others. So here are just ten leadership characteristics I for one will try to apply in my business and voluntary working life.
(1) A clear purpose
In her 21st birthday radio address, and in her Coronation speech, the Queen set out her goal: “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.” How clear are our goals, and do others understand them too?
(2) Leading by example
The Queen exemplifies what is best described as servant-leadership. This means she sees her own work as service, and in turn views others work, paid or unpaid, in the same way. Are we willing to adopt the same attitude?
(3) Working hard
Even at 90, this busy lady puts in over 40 hours a week, and not for personal gain. This job is for life. What really motivates us to work hard?
(4) Asking questions
Whether meeting ministers or coal miners, the Queen is renowned for her enquiring, probing mind. What better way to find out about a situation than to ask a question – and then listen to the answer?
Read more about the impact of the Royal Family:
- How royal baby Prince George powered a multi-million pound UK business
- Royal business: Meet the world’s entrepreneurs with blue blood
- Obtaining a Royal Warrant: Everything you need to know
(5) Respecting others
Because the Queen asks questions, she demonstrates her interest and understanding of others. In turn, she is respected. What might our workplaces look like if we showed such respect?
(6) Don’t interfere
Unlike many a crazed despot, our monarch leaves her 1,200 staff and elected government ministers to do their jobs to the best of their abilities. We too need to resist the temptation to step in where we are not needed.
(7) Be discrete
“Discretion may be outmoded, but it is her Majesty’s greatest commodity“, wrote Celia Walden in the Daily Telegraph. “It’s about being circumspect, muted, graceful and subtle in every arena of her life.” Can we be a bit more discrete, especially in our use of social media?
As political commentator Andrew Marr points out: There are no reliable records of the Queen losing her temper, using bad language or refusing to carry out a duty expected of her. I wonder how many of us are influenced by a media-hyped macho style of management – the antithesis of self-discipline?
(9) Showing consistency of character
While the Queen works hard, this doesn’t define her. She takes time to rest, to enjoy sports and to be with her family. This carefully-protected balance to her life means she can be productive and efficient when on duty. Can we say the same of our lives?
(10) Applying wisdom
There can’t be much the Queen hasn’t observed in her 90 years. Successive prime ministers have commented on her insight and reflective manner, and she uses her speeches to advocate understanding, bridge-building and peace. Do we have the necessary benchmarks in our businesses to measure a wise decision against the alternative?
So that’s ten lessons in leadership from one remarkable lady. But if I might indulge with one final lesson; the Queen appears to enjoy herself. “If you enjoy what you do, you will never work another day” – so the saying goes. Maybe that’s HM’s secret?
Queen Elizabeth became the UK’s longest-reigning monarch. So, with the amount of appeal the previous royal celebrations have had on the country and the world, Real Business has looked at the British ruler as a brand.
Louise Third is director at Integra Communications.
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