This weekend, the UK celebrates an extended weekend in honour of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee. I am neither a Royalist nor a Republican. Annoyingly, I can see the arguments of both camps and can certainly put forward a few of my own. However, I am a firm believer in “lessons learned” and in using the pros and cons of every situation to learn and develop myself and those around me.
So, what lessons can be learnt from the Queen’s 60 years of leadership?
Numerous Governments, Prime Ministers and world Presidents have come and gone during the last 60 years, but the Queen has stayed as a consistent force to remind everyone all over the world that UK is open for business as usual. It is also a reassuring reminder of the ultimate accountability and ownership of various internal policies and strategies (e.g. from the numerous British PMs over the years) resting with the same person. There is therefore a certain amount of confidence that is derived from knowing that incoming governments can’t go mad with their policies just because they think that they may not be in sittu for long.
As a leader of any establishment (work, business, home, church etc) the ability to connect with a majority of your people/followers remains one of the most critical success criteria and one of the most difficult. As people live longer and retire later, the challenges of connecting with different age generations and still remain relevant to all, heightens this difficulty. The culture, behaviours and landscape that the Queen inherited when she came into power in 1952, is completely different to the one that exists in 2012! The expectations of the people in the post war Britain of 1952 were no doubt, a whole lot simpler than are today. The Queen is aging. She is a Grandmother and is still expected to carry on with the official duties and travels that befit the position. Retirement may seem like great prospect on some cold days when her bones are weary, but her sense of duty, and some may argue, lack of a “credible” and ready successor, prevents her from doing this now. The pleasure that can be seen on the faces of young children and old adults alike whenever the Queen is around as well as the fact that thousands are expected to willingly and happily (there are no choreographed emotions in the UK!) give up their hard earned public holiday break to line up the streets to participate in the celebrations, says a lot about how the Queen has connected with many.
The Queen and her family have had to reinvent themselves from the stuffy, aloof, almost colonial type of leadership to what we see now. The ability to anticipate the mood and needs of your people/followers and adapt your style accordingly, requires a serious element of creative thinking, thinking out of the box and listening. This is not always easy – which is why we should surround ourselves with competent and courageous people who are able to provide creative and often alternative suggestions to the norm. Today’s preoccupation with employing people who are clones of us, “Mini- Mes” or “Yes Men” and “Yes Women”, is, I suggest, an unwelcome antidote to creative thinking. Likewise, our tendencies to shout down any ideas that may not be what we were expecting is simply stupid.
These are some of the many foods for thought from the reign of HRH, Queen Elizabeth II.