Elizabeth I, the First Woman CEO
Strategic lessons from the leader who built an empire
Leadership is a complex compound of action and image. Elizabeth began life as a bastard outcast, barely able to hold onto life. Made Queen! She worked quickly to transform the image of her identity from a daughter of sin to the Virgin Queen. In the process, she created one of history’s most effective images of leadership. The career of Elizabeth I, is an example of vision, of creating vision, of communicating vision and of realizing vision. Here are some leadership tips from her life by Alan Axelrod’s bestseller book, for today’s women in business:
1.Cherish core values.
2.Survival is never about panic.
3.Control the message, not the messenger.
4.Knowledge really is power.
5.Learn the transcendent value of loyalty.
6.Use all the power you have.
7.Be sure you’ll win.
8.Weigh the risks.
9.Courage always communicates.
10.Create your self image, or others will create one for you.
11.Never forget to be human.
12.Stand up for those you lead.
13.Put first things first.
14.Forgive but don’t forget.
15.Seek the wisdom of others.
16.Learn who is who and who to know.
17.Know when to bend and break the rules.
18.Allocate resources wisely.
19.Evaluate results, not promises.
20.Set goals worth winning.
A leader is a leader in everything she does. Leadership often requires making unpopular decisions, but a skilled leader is also sympathetic to the feelings of others and takes care to avoid unduly upsetting or alienating anyone. That requires maturity, restraint, the exercise of imagination and good judgement.
Effective leadership is still largely a matter of communication. Communication skills are more valuable than ever. An effective leader thinks about what she says, carefully crafting each utterance of any significance.
Leadership is selflessness. Their well being must be the foundation of the leader’s well being. The fates of leader and led must be one and the same.
Understand well that a leader cannot stand apart from the game, but must actively engage in it, always mastering the changing chessboard, always standing ready to respond to a new challenge from a “piece” once thought inconsiderable and powerless.
An effective leader learns the language of those she leads. In a business context, this may well be the language of business- that is, a language that speaks of dollars, value, time, rewards,risks. Whatever the organization, the leader must speak in a language that reflects the values, needs and concerns of the organization.
Feeling weak ? Feeling tired ? You don’t have time to look for some secret source of strength and rejuvenation. Just stop whining, take a deep breath, and fake it. People depend on you and they are watching you. Leaders must project strength every day, every moment and in every contact with the outside World. This was especially important for a woman leader, since powerful men the World over were waiting and watching for the least sign of her weakness.
Leaders typically plum jobs and power positions to offer deserving subordinates. These should not be distributed according to personal affection, but according to ability. Gather closest to you the very best people, whose loyalty, knowledge and skill can be counted on.
We all need milestones and markers of progress. Begin by choosing the right ones, the important ones. Only then can you assess where you and others stand in relation to them. In this way, keeping score becomes something more than the empty object of a hollow game!