At the start of our Board Meetings, we like to plan a fun activity or ice breaker to get things kicked off and last fall we each shared our favorite book titles or binge-worthy shows. We assembled an extensive list and learned a little more about everyone’s character based on what they like to watch or read. If you’d like a copy of the list, let me know and I would be happy to share it.
One of the shows I have heard recommended time and again is The Crown, based on the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. I am not quite done with the second season and have been savoring each episode. I have always been fascinated with English history and devour anything related to the British Monarchy. I’m pretty sure I would have been beheaded back in the sixteenth century but that’s a story for a different column.
Elizabeth was a mere 25 years old when she became queen. She had only been married five years and had two small children. As monarch, she was thrust into an unfamiliar role and surrounded by advisors including the formidable Sir Winston Churchill who greatly impacted every decision she made. In one episode, Elizabeth realizes that her education and upbringing didn’t prepare her for worldly matters and she had little understanding of politics and the potential impact of decisions made by the British government. Elizabeth was trained to be a “royal,” to be silent, accommodating and gracious. She was to allow 10 Downing Street to govern while she was cast as a figurehead. As a “Constitutional Monarch,” she doesn’t respond to political matters nor express her personal political views yet as the reigning Queen of England, is thrust into the spotlight and often in the company of world leaders.
I started thinking about her situation back then and how that might play out today. Elizabeth was essentially a “millennial.” She was a very young woman in a man’s world. She wasn’t provided the type of education on subjects traditionally reserved for men. In matters of governance, she relied solely on the advice of her Prime Ministers and the cabinet. In one of the episodes, Elizabeth hires a tutor to gain a better understanding of world politics in an effort to level the playing field with her cabinet ministers and improve her ability to communicate more competently with other world leaders. She sought out and found mentors she could trust. Dare I say I felt a little like young Elizabeth when I was hired by MHEDA back in 1995?
Regardless of your stance and opinion of the monarchy, Elizabeth must be applauded as someone who weathered many storms both politically and personally. As the newly crowned Queen, she was unsure of her ability and had to rely on her own instincts to become more than a manipulated figurehead. At 91 years old and as the longest reigning monarch in British history, she has earned a level of respect and popularity that cannot be disputed.
As I observe the emerging leaders and the young women in our industry today, I can’t help but think it would serve them well to follow the example of the young Elizabeth. She quickly realized her need to be self-reliant, to educate herself, to remain calm in the face of adversity, to reflect before reacting, to demonstrate confidence, to admit her mistakes, learn from them and move on. She understood the value of mentors and surrounded herself with people she could trust.
Are your emerging leaders and women in industry professionals following the path that Elizabeth charted? MHEDA has resources for education, networking, mentorship and we encourage you to use them. Please mark your calendar for MHEDA’s Emerging Leaders Conference, July 12 and the Women in Industry Conference, November 8. As always, I would love to hear from you. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet @MHEDAOffice or call MHEDA at 847-680-3500.