Leadership is one of the most remarkable qualities Queen Elizabeth II possessed. Like most of us, I’ve been reflecting on the Queen’s life since her death. She truly was an amazing human being and I think she can teach us a great deal about leadership and life.
She led by example.
During her reign, she served as a symbol of unity for the Commonwealth, even in times of great uncertainty. She understood that influence and example are more enduring than power. As Theresa May said: “She gave an example to us all of faith, of service, of duty, of dignity and of decency.”
She was incredibly humble.
Queen Elizabeth will forever be remembered as one of the humblest monarchs who ever lived. She never let herself get caught up in power or prestige. Instead, she focused on doing what was best for those around her – and for Britain as a whole.
She was a servant leader.
The Queen understood that power comes from service, not from force or intimidation. Her leadership style is best summed up by the motto of military academy Sandhurst: Serve to lead. At the heart of this ethos is the idea that leadership is an act of service – serving the people you lead and serving the purpose that you are collectively working towards.
She was resilient and adaptable.
She was resilient through uncertainty, and led her country through war and peace, boom times and recessions, a global pandemic, family scandals and personal tragedies. She witnessed many changes in the world and has shown us how to maintain our composure through it all.
She had a strong sense of values.
During her reign she saw incredible changes in the world around her. Yet, throughout all of it, she maintained a sense of who she was and what she stood for as a leader. Great entities do the same: they maintain a sense of their fundamental values and purpose even as they adapt to changing circumstances.
She always put duty first.
It’s difficult to think of another leader in modern history who embodies the ‘duty first’ mindset more than the Queen did during her reign. From training as a truck mechanic during World War II to working until her very last days when she appointed Liz Truss as the UK’s new prime minister, she lived a life of complete and utter devotion to her duty to serve the nation.
She never swayed from her mission.
One of the most important lessons that Queen Elizabeth can teach us is to not let other people’s expectations sway us from our own mission. Since becoming Queen at the delicate age of 25, she’s always seen her role as a monarch as her life’s main calling and has never put anything before the Crown.
She had a wonderful sense of humour.
She was known for her wit and self-deprecating humour. One of my favourite examples of this was the James Bond spoof video she did with Daniel Craig to launch the 2012 summer Olympics in London.
And finally, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, “She was one of my favourite people in the world… and I will miss her so.”
I feel the same way.