Leadership and the Monarchy
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Leadership and the Monarchy

October 1, 2019


>>Steve Macaulay: This year we celebrate The
Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Now there are some important lessons that we can learn about
leadership. So in the studio today I have a leadership expert, Jon Chapman. Now Jon,
we are all familiar with the trappings of monarchy, what does this say about the symbolic
role of leadership?>>Jon Chapman: It’s true that we these days
tend not to see too much of the sovereign trappings which are the crown and the sceptre,
we tend to see the Queen in the twinset and pearls but those in themselves are symbolic
of what we might call a middle England which she has consciously set out to represent.
But the symbolic trappings of things like the crown the sceptre and the long cloak are
there to symbolise something which is that the role she has goes far beyond simply fulfilling
a social role. When she dedicated herself sixty years ago to serving this country she
took a solemn oath before a God that she believes deeply in and that was not a role that can
ever be taken away and so what you have is a sense of service to something far greater
than herself and it’s not something that she can ever give up. When you look at the
trappings the traditional trappings of the crown and the sceptre what they represent
are connections between herself as an intercessor between ordinary people and the everyday lives
we all lead and this greater picture of what it is that she is in service of which is if
you like almost a timeless concept of what it is to be a nation.
>>Steve Macaulay: The Queen has reigned for many, many years what does this tell us about
the importance of continuity in leadership?>>Jon Chapman: I think it was Lenin who was
no great fan of monarchies who said a quantity has a quality all of its own and there is
no doubt that it is very, very unusual to see someone who has performed in the same
role for sixty years and when you think about the sheer depth and breadth of experience
that that involves I think you also appreciate the potential benefit that that has for those
people who are working with her today. So you have someone who came into the role sixty
years ago in a time of considerable crisis and has been through, has been if you like
at the ear around the table with all of the leading politicians of the day in every crisis
ever since then. So you have someone who has been mentored by Winston Churchill and that’s
something that no leader today other than her can talk about, who has seen the country
go through the Cold War, the Suez Crisis, you have all the problems in the 1960s with
devaluation, the economic crisis of the 1970s, you have the Falklands War of which it is
the anniversary this year, all those crises are somewhere where she has actually listened
to and given advice to Prime Ministers of the day and so that accumulated wisdom is
hugely valuable.>>Steve Macaulay: Now this seems very far
removed from the world of organisations, what parallels are there, what lessons can we draw
for organisations?>>Jon Chapman: I think we see a lot of people
moving into senior positions who at quite a young age these days and I think there is
a tendency to assume that they almost require them to know everything when they move into
that role and of course one of the challenges of transition into a new role is that you
don’t know everything and that it’s a learning challenge. So how does a chief executive
manage to learn and look competent at the same time, it’s a tough call and I think
one of the things that helps is having people around them who can be a source of advice
and wisdom and I think mentoring is a really important part of that. So I think the Queen
is a really good example of how that can really work to the benefit of people in senior positions.
>>Steve Macaulay: So in summary Jon, what lessons and pitfalls can we learn about leadership
generally from the Queen’s reign?>>Jon Chapman: Well, I think the first thing
is the value of mentoring and finding a way in organisations to allow accumulated wisdom
and experience that’s there amongst more experienced people to still find its way through
into the people who are actually managing the business. The pitfall is in letting those
people go too early and losing that experience. Secondly, I think the Queen sets a really
interesting example of the power of emotional self-regulation, this is someone who spent
many years performing a role which at times is very difficult and requires her to put
other things first beyond herself and I think you’ve seen that self-control and how useful
it can be to leaders when that’s called for. The dangers of course is not changing
at the right time not actually becoming allowing emotional expression when it’s needed and
that’s something that she’s been criticised for and the third point is being aware of
the power of the symbolic, it’s hugely important for leaders, it links directly into those
archetypal energies which are represented in the notion of the sovereign and they actually
provide a real hotwire connection to peoples’ sense of vision and purpose and future and
why they are doing what they’re doing and I think that’s something that all leaders
can learn from and learn how to use wisely and with good intent.

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