This has been an extraordinary and sad week for the UK and the Commonwealth. The loss of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has had a palpable effect on the people of the UK who are coming to terms with the end of an era. The scale of the mourning and the depth of the grieving are testament to an extraordinary world leader who exercised influence with exceptional dignity and grace. Fidelio’s Overtures focus on leadership and in this week of national mourning we reflect on key attributes of the late Queen that contributed to her success.
1. INTEGRITY & CONSTANCY
Business leaders are exhorted to set "the tone from the top". The Queen certainly achieved this with mourners consistently referring to the strength, fortitude and deep faith that the Queen brought to her role as Head of State and Church. These attributes enabled the Queen to serve so effectively as a linchpin to the constitution and a figure of calm and reassurance in the most challenging of times.
2. VOICE, VISIBILTY & LEGITIMACY
Notably, early in her reign, the Queen spoke to her nation: "I cannot lead you into battle, I do not give you laws or administer justice but I can do something else, I can give you my heart and my devotion to these old islands and to all the peoples of our brotherhood of nations.”
- Queen Elizabeth II, Christmas Broadcast 1957
The Queen had a keen understanding of her role and how to be effective in that role. She spoke seldom but when she did it was with great consideration and impact, so that we recall many of her addresses to the nation today. While retaining dignity and discretion, the Queen fully understood the importance of being seen and recognised. Combined with a strong work ethic, this innate grasp of how to convey constancy and reassurance, enabled the Queen to underscore the legitimacy – and value – of the monarchy. There may be a lesson here for many a Boardroom.
3. DIVERSITY & THE ENVIRONMENT
The Queen assumed the throne at a time when the UK was governed by white men. In the final government of her reign none of the four great offices of state are held by a white male. This is symptomatic of profound social change in the UK and Queen’s commitment to diversity shone through in the Commonwealth. Indeed the exuberance of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham is an expression of the Queen’s vision of friendship among nations. A number of her great State visits are now remembered for bridging deep divides including in Ireland or South Africa.
Equally the Royal Family have demonstrated a commitment to the environment which was at times perceived quirky and is now considered mainstream. A clear message from the Queen at the Platinum Jubilee was the importance of sustainability and this has been reiterated and reinforced by her heirs.
The UK Corporate Governance Code sets out a clear expectation for business leaders to take account of stakeholders, society and the environment in their dealings. This long-term and multi-faceted approach to leadership is surely a key characteristic of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II.
In conclusion, the Queen had a distinct, indeed unique, role and it would be inappropriate to make lazy comparisons. Her Majesty’s leadership attributes were exceptional and it is both fitting and illuminating to reflect on these qualities. This is a sign of deep respect and for those in Non-Executive leadership, there may well be something to learn.
We at Fidelio are greatly saddened by the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. We share in the public grief, and send our condolences to the Royal Family in their private sorrow. We would like to take this opportunity to express our appreciation for Her Majesty’s service to the nation and Commonwealth.