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From the Throne Room to the Board Room: Three Leadership Lessons from Queen Elizabeth II

September 28, 2022

Posted in: WATSON Views

On September 8, 2022, Queen Elizabeth II passed away after 69 years as monarch and head of state for 15 Commonwealth realms. Whether you’re a monarchist or not, that’s quite an impressive run, especially when you consider her 90% approval rating.

Leaders have huge impact on their organizations, regardless of size. From small start-ups to multi-national corporations, tone is set at the top. So what can we learn from a global leader with unprecedented longevity and popularity?


  1. Know Your Purpose

In a speech to the nation in 1947, the Queen declared her purpose: “I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.”

Having a clear purpose statement and communicating it relentlessly creates transparency and a clear sense of direction. The best leaders bring that purpose to life and consistently translate it into action.


  1. Model Your Values

Over the course of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, the British Royal Family endured its share of scandals. And yet through them all, the Queen embodied her values of commitment, restraint, and hard work. Modelling a culture consistently over the long-term builds trust, allowing others to follow and appreciate a leader.

While it can take tremendous time and effort to build, trust can be broken in an instant –  it only takes one wrong move in the moment or a picture that creates a bad impression. Consistency is key.


  1. Be Aware That People Are Watching

The Queen was one of the most photographed people in the world. This meant being “on” for any situation in life. A walk to the car, a state ceremony, or the illness and death of a husband would all be punctuated by hundreds of flashbulbs. Yet the image of the Queen remained consistent .

For those new to top leadership roles, one of the most challenging aspects is getting used to the fact that people are constantly watching. There’s no room to be careless with your words – they carry great weight with employees and stakeholders who often try to interprete them for more meaning.


The Queen’s popularity and success as a monarch are founded on competencies that make strong leaders. Even if your setting is more board room than throne room, the example the Queen lived over her 96 years can be an inspiration.