In this blog, Represent founder and MD Judith O’Leary shares her views on the late Queen and why she thinks she is one of the foremost female leaders
Devoted to duty until the very end, the dedication of Queen Elizabeth II cannot be overstated. Since 1952 and throughout her 70-year reign, Her Majesty The Queen led with honour and stoicism as well as kindness and humour.
In the wake of her passing over the past few weeks, world leaders and dignitaries have paid tribute to the late Queen, honouring her lifetime of service and devotion to the people of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.
Aged 96, – visibly frail yet smiling brightly – she carried out her last act of public duty formally appointing Liz Truss Prime Minister, the third female PM of her reign and 15th PM since her coronation.
HRH The Queen has always been there. Serving as a monarch, she has provided an unwavering steadiness through challenging times while breaking down barriers.
As one of the first ‘working women’ she faced significant sexism, particularly in the political world and in the early stages of her reign.
While Her Majesty was never outspoken on women’s rights, The Crown actress, Olivia Colman was onto something when she called her ‘the ultimate feminist.’ The ‘real’ Queen believed1 that the key to societal change was unlocking female potential and recently commended the success of the ‘Lionesses’ for paving the way for generations of women and girls.
An inspiring female leader, the late Queen ruled amid some of the darkest times in modern history, including through the atrocities of war, both far away and closer to home.
She reigned throughout the peak of the Troubles in Northern Ireland through to the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. In 2011, she followed in her grandfather King George V’s footsteps by making a journey not taken by a monarch in 100 years. Visiting Ireland for the first time, she led from the heart and built a bridge between two countries. While her legacy remains complicated for many in Ireland, she stood for hope.
As head of the most prolific family in living history, HRH The Queen served as a matriarch in some very challenging personal times that played out in front of a public audience. Her mistakes are well documented too.
Badly handled, the initial stages of the death of Diana Princess of Wales did not reflect the mood of her subjects but she quickly adapted to win back the hearts of the people. While embodying the stiff upper lip, HRH also showed her vulnerability, acknowledging her 1992 ‘annus horribilis’ to gain both public sympathy and understanding. Unwavering, the late Queen steered the ‘firm’ through more recent drama to bring the people back on-side once again.
As a good leader, she recognised her greatest assets putting her faith in the younger royals to carry on her good work, even before her reign came to an end. Recent opinion polls2 reveal just how strategic that move has been, ranking Kate and William among the most popular royals today (after Her Majesty).
Despite their well-publicised woes, Her Majesty The Queen Elizabeth II had a largely happy family life. Devoted to her husband, she enjoyed a rich and varied personal life indulging in her passions for equestrianism, dogs, and the countryside – with her Scottish home Balmoral holding a special place in her heart. It is ironic that is it only following her passing that we are learning more about the ‘real’ side of The Queen and all the parts that make her such an inspiring female.
Whatever our views on the monarch, The Queen was undoubtedly one of the strongest leaders the world has seen and one we, as business leaders, can look to when honing our leadership skills.
So, what can we learn from the late HRH Queen Elizabeth?
- Lead from the front – a dedicated, compassionate leader will help bring even your biggest critics on-side
- Listen to your ‘customers’ – they will tell you where you’re going wrong and how to fix it
- Show your vulnerable side and give others permission to do so
- Live your values and allow them to be your compass
- Be consistent in your messaging to build trust
- Be open to change and adapt with the times
- Recognise and play to your strengths and those around you
- Make time for your family – some of the best leaders are parents after all
- Indulge in your passions to seek fulfilment outside of work and avoid burnout.
For 70 years Her Majesty showed generations of females that they too could lead. From the way she took to her duties at such a young age, through to the dignity with which she handled some very frankly awkward situations, she embodied leadership.
Keeping the above lessons from Queen Elizabeth II in mind, leaders of today can only aspire to show the same levels of dedication and duty to their purpose as she showed to the world every day of her reign.
If you enjoyed this, click here to read another inspiring opinion piece from our founder.