The value of leadership and commitment for a lifetime
As I am sure you have guessed this is an article about Queen Elizabeth II. She was an amazing woman who gave her life to serving her country and became a widely celebrated model for her time spent as Queen. Her funeral was Monday, September 19th, 2022, but the coverage reminiscing her life spanned the weeks from her passing and will likely continue long after. Her death marks the end of an era. Most of the coverage of her life has been about who she is, what she has accomplished, and rightfully so. This is an opportunity to look at the symbol she is and the lessons we can learn from her and her life of service.
Leadership is talked about a lot. A quick Google search or trip to the bookstore would yield thousands of results. There are so many opinions and types of leadership that they are hard to count. Everyone has their version of leadership. We are constantly critical of leaders, and everyone is quick to use their favorite examples of "perfect" and "terrible" leadership. So to begin this article we need to establish what exactly leadership is and the definition we are using going forward. Leadership in this case will mean setting an example and consistency. The reason for the use of this definition is because we are using the late Queen Elizabeth II as our primary example. Leadership is normally hands-on, there is a mentorship element and direct conversations that help to shape people. The Queen could not have that effect on most people, as a monarch is a very different kind of leader than your typical business leader or mentor for obvious reasons.
In my opinion, something that is assumed but may be overlooked is the duration that leadership takes. Leadership means a long commitment to results and growth. It will also have a lasting effect on the people and organizations that this person was a part of. Now it will be difficult to quantify what the lasting effect of Queen Elizabeth's rule will be since she just recently passed away. The point being is that she ruled the United Kingdom for over 70 years, where her platinum jubilee was celebrated, and she was ruler through peace and more crises than most could deal with. Most people do not provide 70 years of service until they are 96 years old to the same job. That value cannot be understated. To be able to weather storm after storm after storm and be that example to the people is exceptional. Whether you are pro-monarchy or against it, Queen Elizabeth II's commitment is a great example of good leadership even when things are not easy.
Speaking of when things aren't easy, let's talk about the shifts that the monarchy had to take over the years to stay relevant and not be dissolved. Ruling for so long means that times were very different from when she first took power to the end of her time. At the beginning of her rule, the global culture and permissible actions were very different, as well as the support and respect for the position. For an institution that is notorious for tradition, there was growth and change that happened throughout the royal's tenure. A greate example of this is on her coronation, where a typically exclusive event was broadcasted to over 20 million Brits on television and another 11 million on the radio. This ability to join the public with the Royals was looked upon quite favorably, where 82% of Canadians say Queen Elizabeth did a good job in her role as monarch. These numbers do not stay that way unless you grow and change to accommodate times, even though this is lacking more tangible evidence. Obviously, they are not perfect as emphasized by the Prince Harry and Meghan Markle situation, or Princess Dianna, or any other number of scandalous situations that royal celebrities are bound to be followed by, but it does still show that she at least somewhat avoided the negative image that those situations entailed.
Another thing to keep in mind is that being a ruler even when you are voted in is not easy to keep popularity. Although today we live in a time where in some parts of the world women leaders are praised, likely this was not the case for Queen Elizabeth. Again, through her commitment to her responsibility, she accepted the challenges that leadership entails, even if people wouldn't listen just based on who she was. She also faced many major world events, such as several wars, serious inflation, the reeling economy from the Second World War, and countless other political issues over her time, again steadfast against these problems.
For all the faults that the royals have one thing you cannot accuse them of is lacking manners. Discipline, rigidity, and adherence to extreme regiment defines the Royals. Part of the reason they do this is because it helps them to exemplify that they are royal. As a leader, one must hold themself to higher standards than everyone around them to show by example, and Queen Elizabeth definitely exemplifies this behavior.
Whatever your feelings on the monarchy, we have lost a woman who held herself to the highest standards, committed her life to the service of the country and commonwealth, and all in the face of adversity. If you are looking for lessons in leadership then look no further than to the woman who did it for 70 years. Through the good and the bad, she met it head-on and took her responsibility seriously, making her an effective leader.
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