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The Queen as Britain’s longest-standing monarch: lessons for business

Jean Martin

Jean Martin, talent solutions architect at best insight and technology company CEB, on the leadership lessons we can learn from the Queen

This month the Queen hit a historical milestone in becoming the longest reigning British monarch, a position previously held by her great-great grandmother Queen Victoria. In her role as the head of Britains largest family firm for over 63 years, she has overseen dramatic changes in how it is run and her style has evolved in tune with the times. So what are some of the lessons for businesses from our longest-standing leader?

Although challenging at times, the Queen has always striven to maintain the stability of the monarchy. Since her Accession on 6 February 1952, she has shared certain responsibilities with other members of the Royal team and evolved into a role akin to Chairman. Taking on a more collaborative role, we have seen her leverage the strengths and skills of other family members, including her successors, empowering them to take ownership of their duties while forging mutually beneficial connections across the globe. This enterprise mind-set unlocking connections, boosting cross-group collaboration and being able to rely on effective networks to unlock knowledge and get results is critical for any leader.

As with any boss who has been at the top for many years, the Queens strategy and vision has had to evolve as the views of her stakeholders, the UK general public, have changed. She has had to work hard to evolve an ancient institution to be relevant in modern times. Her landmark achievement is testament to how adapting your style of leadership to the needs of the times can ensure a long and productive tenure at the head of a significant royal firm.

Over the course of her reign, in the face of intense public scrutiny, we have seen the Queens leadership style become more transparent and collaborative. Collaboration is key to success for every leader in fact, our recent study shows that those leaders working well with and through others not only achieve better organisational results achieving 12 per cent better revenue outcomes in their businesses they also achieve better success for themselves.

Increasing transparency in the Queens Christmas speech or what could be seen as the firms annual statement has also been an important development, making it accessible through YouTube to people all over the world. Acknowledging her annus horribilis and being honest about the challenges to the monarchy has helped win favour and empathy among key stakeholders, particularly those in politics and media. This also holds true in other areas, such as voluntarily opening the firm up to greater financial scrutiny from Parliament and the Queen agreeing to meet the bulk of family expenses from the inherited income. When it comes to finances, the Queen has also explored alternative sources of revenue, opening up Buckingham Palace to the public to raise funds for repairs and ensuring other business leaders including Prince Charles volunteer to pay tax on their private incomes.

The enduring success of the Commonwealth is testament to its figureheads ability to innovate. While all members of the Royal Family play a role in maintaining links with global business prospects, the Queen has visited 116 countries during her reign in the interests of strengthening relationships. has And has ensured that the satellite branches of the organisation such as Canada and Australia remain content.

Finally, one of the latest achievements of the Queens time at the top has been through the joint venture with the Middletons, launching the hugely successful brand Wills & Kate. By nurturing and sharing responsibilities with high-potential junior talent, the Queen has added value to the firm, not least with the success of two Royal Baby campaigns. Not only has such a high-profile collaboration ensured the ongoing relevance and public appeal of the firm, but CEB research shows that companies that bring more diverse key figureheads on-board can generate twice the revenue and profit growth as those without.

Business heads who want to learn from the long and flourishing leadership of the Queen can learn from the milestones that have shaped her reign. Sharing knowledge, encouraging new ways of working and enabling more cross-group collaboration will ultimately lead to stronger growth, happier stakeholders and a stable succession plan.


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