“I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.”
These are the words of Queen Elizabeth II on her 21st Birthday. Published on the 21 April 1947.
Its Saturday morning after a terrible week here in the UK. A week of great public and private sorrow. I feel a little lost, unsettled, sad. I find myself coming back time and time again to reflect on the person, the life, the legacy of our Queen. Thinking of her majesty’s multi-dimensions, her awesome achievements and accomplishments, her professionalism, her service, and her great character give me comfort. (It also gives me a leadership blueprint to aspire to.)
Let me explain further.
During her 97 years on this earth, her hard-working nature, meant she led by example each and every day right till the end. Showing us all the importance of balance, steadfastness, calmness, commitment and a sense of humor. (She once said the following on why she choose to wear such bright colors: "If I wore beige, nobody would know who I am."
Let’s face it I am sure during her 70year reign there were moments she wanted to scream at someone or something. To lecture someone on poor behavior. To argue about a something, she disagreed with. I also be willing to bet she occasionally felt let down. She saw fools come and go in positions of power, she saw countries go to war and the quickening pace of change threaten our existence yet she said nothing. She maintained her unbiased position; she was completely and utterly silent. She never interfered and she always maintain her discretion.
"Like all the best families, we have our share of eccentricities, of impetuous and wayward youngsters and of family disagreements." - Her majesty The Queen.
Sometimes it is easy for us to have an emotional outburst. If someone has let us down, treated us badly, or done something that is inappropriate. But from now on let’s remember The Queen’s example; our job as leaders is to not emotionally react.
"We all need to get the balance right between action and reflection. With so many distractions, it is easy to forget to pause and take stock." - Her majesty The Queen.
It takes such a strong-willed person to do that. It takes someone who knows themselves, their role, and their purpose well. Although we may wish to moan, to vent, to scream we shouldn’t/ can’t. As leaders we must maintain an air of graciousness, remain calm, and portray confidence for our team.
The Queen has been on the throne for 70 years. I’ve been around for 51 years. During that time I don’t think she has put a foot wrong. She has been the guiding light of what is proper, what is right, what is morally correct.
What a role model! If I could be half the (female) leader she was I’ll be as pleased as punch.
My understanding is that Queen Elizabeth had a strong vision for the monarchy. She always thought of the longer term, the bigger picture. Taking that lesson on board our focus must always be on what we’ve been put on this earth to do. Always remembering the purpose means we never get bogged down in the weeds of the day-to-day, the ups and downs. Challenges will come and go, but our long-term purpose remains. Once we think of the longer term then we can take an infinite position on the here and now.
"Even when your life seems most monotonous, what you do is always of real value — and importance to your fellow men." - Her majesty the Queen.
If someone lets you down, wrongs you in some way, is inappropriate or difficult. Your job is not to get emotional, to chastise them, make their life more difficult. Our job as leaders is to help them become the better person, to understand the complex issues, to show them there is another way, support them in developing that insight. That means thinking of them more than thinking of ourselves.
Servant Leadership is a non-traditional leadership philosophy, embedded in a set of behaviors and practices that place the primary emphasis on the well-being of those being served.
I’d say the Queen was an exemplar of Servant Leadership, wouldn’t you?
On Friday, as a mark of respect. I decided to wear my three string pearls necklace in honor of her majesty. (You will notice from the photos she was rarely seen without hers.) I’ve not taken them off since. They will now be a constant reminder to me of a remarkable role model I aspire to and my greater purpose.
Your majesty, thank you for everything you have done. For your devoted service to the Nation and the Commonwealth. You have (and will continue to be) our role model and moral compass.
Rest In Peace
Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II
21st April 1926 - 8th September 2022
Photograph taken by Julian Calder for Governor-General of New Zealand