Queen Elizabeth II is a wonderful role model for strong and steady leadership. Her life bears lessons for all parents, who must lead their families.
If you are like me, you will have been staggered by how many people loved the Queen. I have always admired the Queen’s leadership, humility, faith, courage, and commitment. I thought I was one of very few, but it turns out I am one of billions.
The Queen’s funeral was predicted, by Metro Magazine in the UK, to reach 4.1 billion people. This makes her funeral the biggest, most-watched TV event in world history. Here in Australia, it has been almost wall-to-wall TV coverage of Queen Elizabeth, 24 hours a day, for the last two weeks.
It really has taken me by surprise. I might add, a very pleasant and wonderful surprise.
It would appear to me that the Queen was the greatest celebrity of all time, who barely regarded herself as a celebrity. She never agreed to a formal interview with the press in her 70-year reign. The Queen carried out her duties in the most humble and gracious way.
So, just why was Queen Elizabeth so popular and what leadership lessons can we learn from her? Before we go there, let’s hear what world leaders had to say about the Queen.
“Queen Elizabeth provided inspiring leadership to her nation and people… she personified dignity and decency in public life”. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi
“Michelle and I were lucky enough to come to know Her Majesty, and she meant a great deal to us… Time and again, we were struck by her warmth, the way she put people at ease, and how she brought her considerable humor and charm to moments of great pomp and circumstance.” Former US President Barack Obama
“Queen Elizabeth was one of the greatest leaders the world has ever known… Through thick and thin, the Queen provided us with the stability and the strength that we needed.” UK Prime Minister Liz Truss
“Her commitment to German-British reconciliation after the horrors of World War II will remain unforgotten.” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz
“Queen Elizabeth is one of my favourite people in the world… I will miss her so.” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
To be a mother or a father is to be a leader. So, what leadership lessons can we learn for our families from Queen Elizabeth II? Here are my six!
1. Servant Leadership
Executive Search believes that servant leadership is foundational to good leadership and says this about the Queen.
“On her 21st birthday, Princess Elizabeth addressed the nation through radio and shared her vision with the world. ‘I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service…’
Her vision and purpose would later shine through in everything she did, whether it was opening parliament, entertaining presidents, or greeting community leaders.
The Queen’s leadership style is best summed up by the motto of military academy Sandhurst: serve to lead.
“Leadership is an act of service — serving the people you lead and serving the purpose that you are collectively working towards,” explains Neil Jurd OBE, author of The Leadership Book.
Jurd highlights how the Queen dedicated her life to serving others, ever since she trained as a truck mechanic during World War Two. “She was still working 30 years after state retirement age.”
2. Be Clear About Your Role
Edward Segal, in a Forbes article titled “The Leadership Lessons Queen Elizabeth II Leaves For Business Executives”, believes clarity regarding your role is key to success as a leader.
“I believe it’s impossible for anyone to find a CEO, politician, celebrity or sports figure who can even come close to Queen Elizabeth II’s sterling example of duty, strength, hope, resolve and dignity,’ Nick Kalm, the founder and CEO of Reputation Partners, said in a statement.
‘The lesson for business executives is to be crystal clear on your role and mission, as well as the example you set for all of your stakeholders, and then adhere to them regardless of outside factors that may cause you to flag or waver,’ Kalm concluded.”
3. Develop the Ability to Listen
Edward Segal, in the same Forbes article, believes one of the Queen’s key leadership qualities was her incredible power to listen and seek wise counsel.
“One thing [the Queen] will be remembered fondly for in terms of leadership lessons is her willingness to listen,’ Wendy L. Patrick, a lecturer in business law at San Diego State University, said via email.
‘Many who worked with her described her as open-minded and forward-thinking, being receptive to hearing an opposing viewpoint and unafraid to change her mind. This was reportedly the way her coronation was televised when she was initially strongly opposed to breaking tradition: her husband persuasively changed her mind,’ Patrick recalled.”
4. Provide a Sense of Values
Edward Segal, again in the same Forbes article, extolled the Queen’s amazing ability to provide a sense of values for the ones she leads.
“The most significant leadership lesson I think we t[can] take from [her is] that leaders provide a sense of values, vision, and direction for the country, organization, etc.,’ Andy Cohen, a professor of management at the University of Denver, said via email:
Queen Elizabeth II ‘reigned during a 70-year period of tremendous change in the world in Great Britain. Yet, we always had the sense that Britain, its leadership, and its people maintained the same sense of values and who they are or were through it all. Great entities (companies, countries, other organizations) do the same, maintaining a clear sense of values and purpose even as the specifics and tactics change,’ he observed.”
5. Keep a Sense of Humour
“The Queen’s public face was one of duty and seriousness, imposed by her position and a generation that avoided showing emotion.
Privately, she was known for her dry wit and sense of fun. Queen Elizabeth was quite comfortable with being teased and teasing others. She managed the tension between the pompousness of her regal title with laughter. She found her true soul mate, in her late husband, Prince Philip, who was famous for his sense of humour and making her giggle.
The Queen also used laughter to defuse uncomfortable situations and put people at ease, well aware of the impact her presence had on others.”
6. Trust in a Higher Power
Marie-Claire Ross, in her article in CEO Magazine titled ‘The powerful leadership legacy of Queen Elizabeth II’, said,
“As the head of the Church of England, the Queen had a strong Christian faith and firmly believed that her title was conferred upon her through God. On her first Christmas Address in 1952, the Queen requested prayer for her upcoming coronation.
‘I want to ask you all, whatever your religion may be, to pray for me on that day,’ she said, ‘to pray that God may give me wisdom and strength to carry out the solemn promises I shall be making, and that I may faithfully serve Him and you, all the days of my life.’
In future Christmas addresses, the Queen would acknowledge just how much relying on her own faith had helped her. In her 2002 address, she remarked ‘Each day is a new beginning. I know that the only way to live my life is to try to do what is right, to take the long view, to give of my best in all that the day brings, and to put my trust in God…’
As I discuss, in my book, Trusted to Thrive, trusted leaders believe in a higher power. Developing our inner ability to trust is crucial. At some level, it requires trusting that everything is going to work out, that we are being looked after by a benevolent force, even if we can’t imagine how that will possibly happen at that point in time. Trusting a higher power gives us the certainty to trust that all will be well and to trust ourselves.”
Hopefully, we can all learn something for our families from this amazing woman!
Yours for servant leadership,
PS: Good news — the booking deadline for our fathering course has been extended. The Courageous Online Zoom Fathering Course now starts this Tuesday, 27 September. Watch video here.
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First published at Dads4Kids.