On the occasion of Queen Elizabeth’s 90th birthday, Nottingham businesswoman Louise Third MBE suggests that our businesses would flourish if we adopt just a few of Her Majesty’s leadership qualities.
The Queen is a quite remarkable leader, and 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.
HM The Queen: –
Has 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?
Leads 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?
Works 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?
Asks 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?
Respects 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?
Doesn’t interfere. Unlike many a crazed despot, our monarch leaves her 1200 staff and elected government 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.
Is discreet. “Discretion may be outmoded, but it is her Majesty’s greatest commodity”, writes 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 discreet, especially in our use of social media?
Is self-disciplined. 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?
Shows 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?
Applies her 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?