A lesson from Her Majesty the Queen: be nice, look nice, act nice.

June 1st 2012

Unsurprisingly, there is not a single LEYF nursery that hasn’t been joining in the Jubilee Celebrations this week in one way or another – some have even written directly to the Queen to share with her what they’ve been planning!

This fascination with the Queen as Head of State interests me particularly, not least as I come from a Republic. Like so many still today, I have to admit to liking all the incredible pomp and ceremony that Royalty tends to instantly bring to liven up otherwise ‘regular’ events; a parade with State carriages, uniforms of the Horse Guards and all the old fashioned glories of an ancient monarchy is truly a sight to behold. That said, I am probably less accepting of what one Londoner recently described as all the hangers on..

The Queen elicits the respect of so many, partly at least because of her acceptance and application to her duties, described as someone who understands her role and takes it seriously. Bringing a certain gravitas without arrogance or condescension to the role, she is described as warm and friendly – and is certainly able and willing to engage with the public. She also seems humble in the way she accepts her role, and never tries to overstep the mark.

In Ireland the only president that I ever took any interest in was President Mary Robinson (1990 – 1997), our first female President.  She came as a woman who had already got a reputation as a barrister and human rights campaigner, and was widely seen as a transformative figure who revitalised and liberalised a previously conservative, low-profile political office. And her like has never been seen since.

So what can we, as female leaders in other fields, learn from such women, who have so successfully managed to secure the support, attention and respect of the general public? Is it simply that they take their responsibilities seriously? How is this manifested more than with any other leader? When Aspire Leadership recently surveyed more than 300 global business leaders, they found that both men and women alike consider women better leaders. And, perhaps even more surprisingly to the die-hards of the boardroom, it turns out that women with children make the best leaders of all. It surely must come down to those typically ‘female’ behaviours, so once maligned as a woman’s Achilles’ heel in the workplace-behaviours – such as consensus, building, teamwork and clear communication. Hurrah!

As future leaders of our society, I asked some of the little girls in our nurseries what they think of the Queen. Apparently…

She sits on a throne…She is really beautiful…She is really nice…She wears a nice dress…She has a big parties…Lots of people like her.”

Surely a great start for any leader: be nice, look nice and act nice.