Soft skills are essential for effective leadership, and no one knows this better than Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. If, like us, you’ve been glued to the Netflix series, The Crown this festive season, you’ll no doubt have a fresh perspective on her life.
She acceded to the throne in 1952 aged 25 as Winston Churchill was enjoying his second term as PM. When we think about how Britain and its culture has changed since the days of Churchill, post WW2, the resilience and adaptability of Queen Elizabeth is actually rather astounding; from Her Majesty’s first live Christmas broadcast in 1957 to her first tweet in 2014. As business professionals, there’s a lot we can learn from her style of leadership.
In her 64 year reign, The Queen has received 14 different PMs from Churchill to Johnson, more than 12 US presidents, and seven popes. Were you in a similar position at work with a relentless succession of new associates to work alongside, would you start to find it all rather tiresome? What if you had forged quite a strong relationship with the previous owner of the chair now so snugly occupied by another?
The answer of course is in diplomacy and taking a long term view. The Queen rarely offers a view on political matters and this is a good rule when it comes to office politics. When in doubt, say nothing.
Ability to maintain equilibrium
As the Head of State of not only Britain but 15 other Commonwealth realms, expectations of Queen Elizabeth are and always have been extremely high. At times, Her Majesty has been criticised for her formal response to an emotional situation but we must not forget that The Queen is of an era of greater formality and has been conditioned from a young age to always present a calm exterior belying any emotion within.
Asking questions and being interested in the answers helps you to truly engage with others and build strong relationships.
In modern culture we may expect that an emotional outburst be met with a similar response, but this may not always be the best course of action. Soft skills are essentially people skills, and as people are inherently emotional – we get angry, upset, annoyed and frustrated – it is only natural that these emotions may on occasion spill out into the working environment.
If you can maintain your equilibrium in the eye of the storm, you can lead others more effectively.
The Queen Mother’s advice to Queen Elizabeth was: “if you find somebody a bore, the fault lies with you.” This sage advice can guide us in our interactions with others.
To be consistently late shows a disregard for another’s time
It reminds us to put in the requisite effort to get to know somebody, to ascertain their interests and hobbies and to engage them on a level that they rather than we are comfortable with. Often a person only comes alive when you find the cog that makes them tick.
The Queen reads detailed briefings of those she will meet enabling her to ask insightful questions and interact in a meaningful way, and whilst this may not be practical for you in your working life, asking questions and being interested in the answers helps you to truly engage with others and build strong relationships.
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A working persona
Her Majesty is the personification of the royal brand, presiding over many ceremonial events such as Trooping the Colour and the State Opening of Parliament. The Queen has been called “a symbol of unity in a world of insecurity” and has remained conscientious to the role of monarch through good times and bad, such as the “annus horribilis” of 1992 and the hospitalisation of Prince Phillip during Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee.
Often a person only comes alive when you find the cog that makes them tick.
What we can learn from this is that sometimes having a working persona can help us to get through difficult aspects of the job and to flourish in the positive aspects. You may not be the leader at home but that doesn’t mean you can’t be at work. You may have to manage a difficult employee in the office but you can then set this aside at the end of the day.
Her Majesty has many soft skills style secrets but perhaps her ability to manage the multiple aspects of both a challenging position with a family and a full life has to be the one to which we would all aspire.
Interested in learning more about this topic? Read Soft skills: preparing the leaders of tomorrow.
This content was originally published here.