The "Darnley Portrait" of Elizabeth ...

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In commemoration of today’s royal wedding, let’s take a look at Intero President & CEO Gino Blefari’s thoughts on the leadership of former English monarch Queen Elizabeth I and what we can learn from Her Majesty:

The royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton this week inspired me to share the leadership profile of Queen Elizabeth I, a distinctive leader whose name has become synonymous with the era in which she ruled (1558-1603).

Queen Elizabeth’s reign is often referred to as “The Golden Age” of English history. She was a very popular queen in her day, and 400 years later remains one of the best-loved monarchs and one of the most admired rulers of all time. She became a legend in her own lifetime, well known for her remarkable abilities and achievements.

During her reign, Elizabeth was dedicated to her country in a way few monarchs had been or have been since. She had a brilliant political mind and nurtured her country through careful strategic leadership and by choosing capable men to assist her.

She was determined, without being stubborn. She listened to other’s advice and would change a policy if it was unpopular. Her appearance was extravagant, and her behavior sometimes superficial and lighthearted. But, her approach to politics was serious, conservative and cautious.

England was an impoverished country torn apart by religious squabbles when she took the throne in on Nov. 17, 1558. But when she died at the Richmond Palace on March 24, 1603, England was one of the most powerful and prosperous countries in the world.

A continuing theme of effective leadership is the ability that great leaders have to reinvent themselves after a troubled childhood. Elizabeth is no different. She was the daughter of Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn. Her childhood was tainted by her mother’s execution and her father’s disappointment at not having a male heir. She was the unwanted daughter who had spent her life in the shadow of the court, cast aside and forgotten.

Despite this setback, Elizabeth had the finest education and charisma. She was a great communicator, always cared for her people and was able to maintain a powerful image.

Some of her greatest leadership achievements were resuming the Protestant Reformation in England, restoring religious harmony in England, taking effective steps to revive and build the English economy, leading England from backward isolation to progressive expansion, and keeping England independent of French and Spanish domination.

Elizabeth I has long passed from the scene, but her influence lives on. The following are leadership lessons we can all learn from her:

  • Never stop learning.
  • Create a strong leadership image. If you fail to do so, others will project images on you.
  • Get into the front lines. Gather information firsthand. Show yourself to those you lead. Share their risks.
  • Establish clear priorities. Do not neglect immediate issues, but never sacrifice long-term values to them.
  • Demand as little obedience as possible. Lead by creating a common cause. Create opportunity instead of mere compliance.
  • Favor evolution over revolution. Leaven innovation with continuity.

Elizabeth I was an admired ruler. One of her greatest achievements was her relationships with the people, which locked in loyalty and adoration.

How will you learn from Elizabeth I and develop yourself into a powerful leadership image that will unite people?