Eliabeth:  Substance and Symbolism

The world seemed to have stopped on Thursday when the world’s longest reigning monarch passed away, less than two days after having received the traditional first visit by the UK’s new Prime Minister. Queen Elizabeth II was working until the very end.

She needs no memorial from me, but she was too exemplary a leader to let her passing go without notice in a blog that is intended for leaders. To that end, I offer a short article from Chief Executive Magazine which focused on her special brand of leadership:  “She was a revered head of state and a reminder that Machiavelli clichés are wrong—leaders can be both loved and respected, hardly the tradeoff Vladimir Putin and too many others seem to feel.”  Our own leaders, regardless of party affiliation, would do well to take note.

The article offers a few other insights; to them I would add the often-overlooked fact that the Queen mastered what may be the hardest challenge of leadership:  leading without authority. The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy; it has a Parliament and Prime Minister in which the actual power to decide and execute resides. She had no real powers from the state to direct others; only the power to influence others from within herself by her words and deeds. As Walter Bagehot, founder of the Economist magazine, remarked over a century ago about another great Queen, Victoria:  “The Queen reigns but does not rule.”  In short,  she could not command,  but she could lead…and she most certainly did.  Would that our own leaders, past and present aspire less to the former and more to the latter.

“She is a reminder of the inextricably intertwined nature of the substance and symbolism of leadership and how very important it is to the life of a nation.”  Take a minute for a short tribute:  “Queen Elizabeth:  A Leadership Appreciation.”   I would also recommend a short and insightful observation from my fellow Vistage Chair Nora Paller on another aspect of the Queen’s character that goes hand in hand with leadership  Duty.

Rest in Peace, your Majesty.

Published by edstillman

I grew up in Carlsbad, north San Diego County, lost my dad as a teenager, went into the USAF for four years and hired on with 3M in 1969. Received my AA from Santa Barbara City College, BA and Masters from Redlands University and after 33 plus years, I retired from 3M in 2002. As I look back on my life, I have been creating myself and developing my skill sets to be a business coach and a Vistage Chair. I am president of SEOT, a "personal improvement" consulting firm spending most of my time working with Central Texas executives running small to medium size for-profit companies who are focusing on improving their profitability greater than their competition. My area of interest is assisting senior executives in creating a better balance between business commitments and personal relationships. I also facilatate three leadership labs each consisting of a dozen owners, presidents and CEOs. We meet monthly both in a group setting as well as in a 1-to-1 coaching session. Our focus is to sharpen each others' skills in becoming better leaders, making better decisions and taking ourselves and companies to that next level. Who are we? My members are experienced top executives who recognize that they don’t have all the answers and who actively seek the company of successful peers—both to give and receive insights and ideas. My members mine the 200 plus years of chief executive experience that comes together in our monthly meetings and members are eager to offer their own experience and insights in the process. As a group, we spend our time exploring topics members can't discuss anywhere else. My members have many other places where they can engage in idle, "cocktail party" chatter. Our mission is to provide the setting for discussing the "undiscussable." Where or who can you go to for confidential, honest feedback to assist you in minimizing your personal "Worry List"?