Would HM The Queen make a good CEO? It’s an odd question, I know, but one I’ve been asking myself in recent weeks as her Platinum Jubilee coincides with a very challenging period for businesses.
In some ways, the Queen is already a boss on a very large scale. When her late husband, Prince Philip, died last year, I remembered that the British Royal Family is often referred to as ‘The Firm’ by some of its own members. It’s a tightly run operation, in which key players are expected to pull their weight in service of the country. The corporate analogy is not wasted on the sizeable organisation that is the House of Windsor, with Forbes estimating that its pre-pandemic annual contribution to the UK economy was £19 billion, mostly through tourism.
Like a CEO, the Queen might consider herself ultimately responsible for sustaining this income stream for the UK, carefully navigating reputational issues around certain family members no longer on the A-list while staying mindful of the ongoing cost of keeping the show on the road.
What has she done that so many CEOs fail to do? Balancing consistency with a willingness to change, while being authentic has been crucial for the Queen. This won’t have been easy for her, heading a monarchy that has been a dominant institution in Britain for centuries, but she’s been open minded, quick to confront problems and never afraid to make tough decisions when the going gets tough. She’s also worked exceedingly hard, which can’t necessarily be said for every corporate boss in the land.
Theodore Roosevelt once made an important distinction between a leader and a boss: a leader leads, while a boss drives. It’s a conundrum often seen in business, politics and even sport. Sound management can preserve the status quo and avert disasters, but progress in building lasting value to weather future storms requires impactful, inspirational leadership. The Queen has displayed both these valuable qualities in abundance during her 70 years on the throne. We at Buchler Phillips send her our very best wishes on this Jubilee weekend, a time for the whole nation to celebrate.
Written by Jo Milner, Partner at Buchler Phillips, the UK’s leading independent corporate recovery, restructuring and turnaround firm.