The Masterclass In Leadership From Queen Elizabeth II
In 1952, when Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh, became Queen Elizabeth II, women’s roles were overwhelmingly domestic, and they were discouraged from working outside the home. This is especially true of married women with children. Most of the women who worked during World War II, keeping the economy going while the men went off to war, surrendered those jobs (voluntarily or not) to the returning men who were the traditional family breadwinners.
Then a 25-year-old, brilliant, beautiful, and elegant new Queen – and working mother and wife – becomes Queen of England. In an instant, she became ruler of a global power of 50,651,280 people across dozens of countries and still psychologically, economically and physically emerging from the horrors, massive destruction and political and cultural chasms of the Second World War.
But she stepped up, and “Queen Elizabeth was the rock upon which modern Britain was built,” as the new U.K. Prime Minister, Liz Truss, said upon the Queen’s passing.
Queen Elizabeth II’s reign is a masterclass in leadership – especially for women
For 70 years as Queen Elizabeth II, she embodied leadership, and showed generations of women – and men – that women could “be” leaders and “do” leadership. “As a woman, she helped define how a woman in leadership operates, how a woman dresses, carries herself, comports herself,” is how historian Amanda Forman aptly described it on CBS News’ breaking news of the Queen’s passing.
Granted the Queen could not be fired from her job like other leaders, but the power and relevance of the monarchy has been challenged many times during her reign and continues to be. The monarchy’s real power is only as strong as their people’s trust and belief in their influence, and Queen Elizabeth II managed, evolved and reigned with aplomb, through family scandals, divorces, and rifts, as well as fires, wars, economic crises and 14 prime ministers (meeting the 15th, Liz Truss, only briefly). There were times the British people felt she had disappointed them, for example during the crisis in Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s marriage, but she learned and evolved from that too.
The fact that she emerged more loved and respected than ever by the time of her passing on September 8, 2022 is a testament to her success.