The recent Diamond Jubilee reminded us of a lot here in Britain – community, culture, values, spirit. It got me thinking about something that enables all of these things: leadership. In an ever-changing world and times of austerity, the Queen proved that having someone to get behind can unite people around a common cause and bring out the best. It prompted me to consider what it means to be a leader today.
Lesson number one: No one leads alone
The Queen may be the official Head of State, but she’d be hard pushed to play this role without the infrastructure of people and teams around her, most notably the rest of the Royal Family. The slimmed down gathering on the balcony was interesting. This may have conveyed where she will depend most for support in her Royal duties over the coming years. Most poignantly, it symbolised investment in succession.
A good leader is one who knows the value of their team, utilises it and invests in it for the future.
Lesson number two: Be seen to be heard
I shivered in the rain on the banks of the Thames, just one of millions of people hoping to give Her Majesty a wave. I wondered why so many people cared enough to endure the weather and stand firm… and I realised it’s because it gave them a common purpose. The Queen is a symbol of what unites us, of our culture and values.
All good leaders know how important it is to be a visible representation of cultural values and direction.
Lesson number three: Keep calm and carry on
If the Queen can be commended on one thing in particular these past 60 years, it is her composure and dedication to getting the job done. So when the rain came, she continued to smile and wave on the Royal Barge. When the Duke of Edinburgh was taken ill on Saturday, the show went on. And when the American celebrities wished her a “happy birthday” (slightly missing the point of the celebration) she was unfazed.
The mark of a good leader is one who can keep their head when plans derail, change track and keep on moving. Most importantly, keeping their people with them.
Lesson number four: It’s important to say thanks
In a rare televised address, the Queen concluded the weekend of celebrations with a message of thanks. Most significantly, Her Majesty said she had been “humbled” and would continue to be “inspired” by the experiences.
A true leader is one who respects their people as much as they are respected themselves. It is the building of this respect and trust which makes real leadership possible.
As I hung up my bunting, the thing that really stayed with me is the sense of connection the whole country felt over those few days. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people”.