Queen Elizabeth’s 70-year reign leaves a lasting legacy of endurance, dedication and service. By all accounts it was a long stint in the top job of the monarchy – average CEO tenure in New Zealand is around 6 years. Here’s our take on leadership lessons we can learn from arguably the most well-known ‘leader’ in the world.
#1 Putting your ‘team’ first
Service and duty are probably two of the most frequently used words to describe the monarch who dedicated her life to serving others. Perhaps an extreme example but this serve-first mindset is the basis behind a servant leadership style. Coined by researcher Robert K. Greenleaf who famously stated “the servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first’, this style of leadership is based on the idea that leaders prioritise serving the greater good (in a work context, this means team and organisation first). It’s about setting a strong vision, supporting and empowering those around you by displaying humility, authenticity, and trust – ultimately, helping to create a positive work environment.
#2 Strong sense of purpose
We’re all searching for purpose and the disruption of the past few years has made us reflect on our purpose in life. For some, this has led to a rethink of the kind of work they do or the organisations they work for. Even from her first public broadcast, the Queen was clear on her role, and this defined her life – “…to devote my life whether it be short or long to the service of my people”. Why is this important? According to McKinsey, people who live their purpose are more productive than people who don’t, they are also healthier, more resilient, and in the context of work, they are more likely to stay with their current employer. It’s a timely lesson to learn, but leaders have a role to play in not only helping their people to find their purpose at work, but also helping them live it.
#3 Keep calm and carry on
Having resilience as a leader is not about being a superhero who tackles every problem with gusto, but rather a mindset where you positively influence the energy of a team when confronted with major difficulties and disruptive events. It’s about remaining calm under pressure, taking accountability, being adaptable and capable of ‘bouncing back’ from setbacks. You can’t reign over a nation and the Commonwealth for 70-years without having to face some change and challenges – from world events through to personal difficulties. Leading in the face of hardship requires an outer focus on those around you and maintaining a positive mindset. The Queen’s consistent leadership, regardless of what was happening around her, was both calming and inspiring.
#4 Authenticity and being true to yourself
Some say that Queen Elizabeth II is the ultimate feminist icon in terms of her impact on global gender equality. Regardless of your outlook, what can be said is that from the very beginning she didn’t adopt a style of leadership that wasn’t true to herself, she never pretended to be someone she wasn’t. Transitioning to a leadership role is often said to be a true test of one’s character. With all of the power and influence that the position of a ‘leader’ holds, it can be very easy to unconsciously adopt the personality traits and leadership style of traditional ‘masculine’ leaders, or in the Queen’s case, act like a King. Showing up as yourself matters, and for authentic leaders this means having self-awareness, being a good listener, knowing how to connect, having control of emotions, leading with empathy – and above all else, amplifying your true self rather than looking for others to emulate.
#5 Surround yourself with horses and corgis
Regardless of what it is that brings you joy; truly good leaders prioritise and value their life outside of work. When your job defines you, it can leave you feeling emotionally empty outside of the office. Not only is it important for your own wellbeing to obtain a healthy work/life balance, but it is equally important that you encourage this behaviour within your team. The research tells us that finding joy in non-professional activities, benefits both careers and personal lives.
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The Decipher Team
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