Wherever you are in the world this week you are probably hearing about the Queen Elisabeth’s Platinum Jubilee.
Personally, I’m impressed.
Not with the pageantry around it, although some bits were really impressive, but with the amazing fact that this woman has been a successful leader for 70 years. This makes her the longest-reigning female monarch in recorded history, which is an amazing fact in itself.
Whatever your opinion about monarchy, I hope you will agree that there is a lot to learn from a person who has been at the helm for such a long time.
Here is what has stood out for me:
- Good leaders take care of themselves: The Queen stays healthy. She eats regularly and well. Gets good sleep. Stays hydrated. Exercises. Doesn’t smoke. Even at her age of 96 she still walks her dogs twice a day, and still rides horses (R.E.S.P.E.C.T)
She knows that a good leader needs to be in a good physical and mental state to be able to face the inevitable challenges and make the best decisions fast.
- Things will go wrong. Keep calm, and lead on: Leaders are the first ones to be blamed for failures and criticized for mistakes. And it’s not only the leaders’ mistakes: their employees and team members take wrong decisions, act out, speak before they think etc. The leader’s job is to stabilize the situation, calm everyone down and do damage control. The Queen has dealt with many serious crises in those 70 years, personal and political ones. She has been known for her common sense, a cool head and for keeping calm and composed at all times. After all, losing one’s head or “getting your knickers in a twist” as the British say won’t help anyone, so instead, keep calm ladies and gents, and lead on.
- Being a woman helps: Ok, that’s tongue-in-cheek, but we’ve all heard so much about working mothers being poor leaders, or that women don’t take leadership roles because the family duties and interests might interfere.
The Queen has demonstrated that being a woman and a mother is irrelevant when it comes to great leadership. Being a leader is a job, and men and women can do this job equally well.
- But seriously now: being a woman helps: Today we know that the best leaders have high EQ, and women usually have higher EQ than men. The Queen has often demonstrated that she has outstanding emotional intelligence. She has great empathy and is very good at putting people at ease. She asks more questions than she speaks herself. She is very curious and she is always willing to learn new things. And she is a master of keeping her ego in check. Yes, she is a leader, but she is also a woman-leader. Move over, gents!
- Good leaders know their own mind and keep it open: The Queen listens to her advisors, but when she makes up her mind about something, she does what she thinks is right. In 1953 she insisted on the televised ceremony of her coronation even though she was advised and requested by Winston Churchill to stick to the radio. The Queen is not afraid of mixing tradition with the new: she welcomes change and new trends. She was the first head of state to send an email, and she embraced the social media with gusto. During the Jubilee celebrations she was represented by a hologram. How cool is that?
- Love what you do and be pleasant to be around: Great leaders know that to build and lead a great team, you have to be the kind of person that people want to build with. Take joy in your work so you are a joy to be around. The Queen is known for her good humor, curiosity, impeccable manners, good nature and predictable behavior. Being pleasant doesn’t mean being friends with everybody and the Queen is a master of holding her authority while being a likeable person.
- Leadership requires maturity, character and determination: Those 70 years of Queen’s reign have demonstrated that leadership is not for everyone, but the Queen knows the value of duty and grit. She is an epitome of diligence, and she follows a steady working routine. She understands and accepts that taking on such responsibility cannot be delegated and comes with a personal sacrifice. Not everyone can be a leader, and some people truly shouldn’t be in this position, but those who want it, must have what it takes.
In her 70 years of service as a leader Queen Elisabeth II has touched lives of people around the world, she has inspired them, given them hope in difficult moments, celebrated their great achievements with them and role-modeled class, self-management, maturity, and dignity.
To me, she is an exceptional leader, and I’m taking her lessons with me.