This week we’re celebrating the Queen’s platinum jubilee in the UK. Hoorah! Let’s get the bunting out, take a few extra days off and sit back and relax. Or maybe you don’t feel like celebrating her at all, maybe you’re no royalist, but whatever your take on the Queen and the Royal Family, you can’t get away from the fact that we’re actually celebrating a career delivered, over 70 years. Whether you’re a fan of the Queen or not, she has certainly invested in her career and given it her all over a time period that most of us will never manage.
So what have been her secrets to success?
I’ve been thinking about this as I also reflect on my own career this week. As I define my own version of career success, as I juggle it with my family life over half term, again, and get honest about what I want the next 20 years of my career to look like. And I think taking a look at how Queen Elizabeth II has managed hers, actually gives us some great insights and lessons for all of us who aspore to be Queen of our own careers.
Although I don’t consider myself a royalise, I kind of have a thing for Queens though. The feminine leadership tools I use are based in working with archetypes which can be helpful in enabling us to access our own personal power more easily. One of them is a Queen archetype and more often than not she is the one that women, when they learn what she’s about, want more of. In their life and their career.
Well she’s a natural leader. She often gets what she wants and manages to do it with grace, dignity and respect. Don’t we all want a bit of that?
When we look at a real life Queen, like Queen Elizabeth it hasn’t always been easy and she’s not a perfect example of leadership. I do, however, admire how she has conducted herself and her career over an amazingly long time and more often than not she does a fantastic job as a figurehead, host and ambassador. She actually does a really good job of illustrating exactly what a Queen of Careers looks like.
Let’s take a look then at what can we learn from her to lead our own successful careers. Which bits can we take from her lead and bring into our own lives, to become Queen of our own careers?
1. She’s really clear about the value of her role
She regularly takes a bashing from the press, the public, anti-monarchists, heads of state – she’s up for scrutiny all the time. But she doesn’t waiver. She’s still here, doing her thing, adapting as she ages, soldiering on and delivering the goods. And why is that? Well I think it’s because she truly believes in her purpose, to be seen as a representative of the nation, to take a moral stance and be a role model for future generations. She believes that her role has a value when many others don’t and she gives 100% to that role, making it count as much as possible, not just for her but for the people she serves. She has a clear vision of what she needs to be and what her role needs to fulfil and this allows her to make tough decisions when boundaries get blurred, family gets involved and she gets pressure from all angles. It also allows her to make quick, clear decisions which others respect and abide by.
2. She knows when to step up
The Queen wasn’t meant to be Queen. It wasn’t something she was prepped for all her life, circumstances lead her down that path when her uncle abdicated, her father took over and then subsequently died when she was relatively young. She suddenly had big shoes to fill and she filled them. She doesn’t shy away from getting stuck in, doing things that most probably scare her. She has learnt on the job and accepted the challenges as they’ve come, trusting advisers and herself to guide her through the trickiest of situations.
3. Service is her driver, not ego
It could be easy for the Queen to act like the big “I am”, refuse to bow down when bad behaviour threatens her reputation, you know, like a few Prime Ministers that we’ve seen over the years… She knows the importance of example and honour and when things have happened in her vicinity that threaten that, she disconnects from them and focuses on what her role requires. It means that she hasn’t hesitated in kicking family members out of the business when they’ve threatened hers and the “firm’s” position. After all they have been the ones misbehaving…She knows that her position isn’t really about her, it’s about the service it needs to give to others and she always has that front of mind when making decisions about what is best for everyone concerned.
4. She doesn’t pretend that family isn’t important to her
Family means a lot to the Queen. She’s a mother to 4 children and has been vocal over the years of her love for them and her beloved husband (who again has threatened to bring down her reputation over the years in more ways than one). Not only are they part of her business, they are safeguarded and cared for as a priority alongside her public duties. Which I think makes it even more impressive as to how easily she can separate them out when necessary and make difficult decisions when the two worlds clash. Yes she has had a whole heap of help to make this possible, but she has used that help to best effect and continued to make space for both in her life.
5. She’s got a team behind her
The Queen doesn’t do it all herself. Like any successful person or business, it takes a team to produce successful results. She is fortunate to have the budget and resources available to her to help her in her working and home life but the key to her success is that she knows which bits she needs to keep for herself. She knows that her strength is in her presence and her “live performances” so she focuses on that and dishes out the rest to others to make that happen. This enables her to play to her strengths, safeguard her energy and dazzle when she performs her part of the role.
6. She makes time for her passions and other interests
We know Queen loves her horses and her dogs. She loves being outside and she’s a country girl at heart. How do we know that? Because we see her doing it, talking about it and making time for it. Now, the fact that she has a team behind her and a whole load of money from us to enable her to do that definitely helps, and not all of us have that kind of staffing budget to play with, but it would mean nothing if she didn’t have the mindset that tells her that she needs to make time for the other things in her life that are important to her too.
If she instead, focused on the negativity often surrounding her role and her family maybe she would feel she had to prove every inch of her worth, work all the hours and be seen to be “worth it”. She certainly puts the hours in, but she also makes time for play too. She knows the value in that and she trusts her own sense of worth enough to do what she knows is right for her, even in shaky times.
7. She’s great at boundaries
As much as she loves her family she doesn’t make any exceptions for them if they misbehave or take action that affects the reputation of the monarchy. She takes her role extremely seriously. She makes those difficult decisions regularly and she doesn’t waiver once she has made them. Everyone knows where they stand and there’s no going back once she has made her position clear. I think for so many of the women that connect with the Queen archetype that I talked about earlier, this is the one area where they can really see the benefit if they get comfortable being Queen. Boundaries are fundamental to gaining respect, authority and balance and the queen is comfortable putting them in place and if you want a masterclass example, then look no further.
So as you get ready for a bit of bunting and street party action this weekend or if you’re just looking forward to a couple of extra days off work to kick back and relax, spare a thought for the Queen and reflect on that career of hers, that she’s still doing in her 90s. Which bits could you take on board for your career that would be worthy of celebrating in years to come?
Career Empowerment Coach
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