Queen Elizabeth II on Leadership

After reigning for the longest term in British history, Queen Elizabeth II passed earlier last week, leaving a large void in the world of leadership and diplomacy. Although the monarchy is mostly symbolic, the former Queen managed to use her 70 years as head of the royal family to promote dignity, common good, and hope to a world defined by change. After ascending to the throne in 1952, the 25-year-old monarch was tasked with holding the weight of the world and showed that sometimes doing nothing was more noble than meddling with others’ affairs. During her tenure, she appointed 15 Prime Ministers, transitioned the British Commonwealth away from colonialism granting more than 20 countries their independence, and counted dignitaries such as Winston Churchill and Ronald Reagan as close friends. Most recently, she celebrated her Platinum Jubilee in 2022 marking her 70-year reign. Needless to say, the queen knew a thing or two about leading others, as well as advice in leading a successful life.

“When life seems hard, the courageous do not lie down and accept defeat; instead, they are all the more determined to struggle for a better future.”

Seeing her father, King George VI, ascend to the throne during the dawn of World War II, she saw firsthand the importance of staring down the enemy and not accepting defeat, but to press on until victory was won. During those days, England experienced the bombardment of London, and the royal family refused to leave Buckingham Palace during the intense bombings. True character is shown during difficult times; and the struggle, as she says, is for a better future.

“It is through this lens of history that we should view the conflicts of today, and so give us hope for tomorrow.”

Although it may be a difficult balance to learn from the past while not living in it, this may be one of the most important lessons to learn. The old saying remains true: if you don’t learn from the past, you’re doomed to repeat it. And as Queen Elizabeth II said, looking back at struggles and obstacles you’ve faced in the past and using them to shape your views on issues you face today will help set you up for success in the future. Don’t forget the past, learn from it, and use it as motivation for tomorrow.

“I know of no single formula for success. But over the years, I have observed that some attributes of leadership are universal and are often about finding ways of encouraging people to combine their efforts, their talents, their insights, their enthusiasm, and their inspiration to work together.”

When it came to leadership, Queen Elizabeth II knew that encouraging and inspiring others to become the best versions of themselves was tantamount to creating a sustainable, productive environment. Not everyone has the same skillsets; however, everyone has unique talents to bring to the table. As a leader, encouraging your teammates to use what they are specifically designed for will help cultivate a more cohesive, creative, and positive workplace.

“It’s worth remembering that it is often the small steps, not the giant leaps, that bring about the most lasting change.”

Although it may be attractive to try to shoot for the moon every chance you get, it’s important to be consistent in the small things. Like the Queen said, it’s the small steps that create lasting change. Creating good habits and consistency in your own life, as well as in the workplace, will not only help you succeed, but will build a culture that is conducive to others’ success as well.

Who are some of your favorite leaders? What have you learned by studying their work? Let us know in the comments section below!

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