It’s been a funny few weeks living here in London. We have just recently had the death of the Queen and the outpouring of emotion for her and for her life of service

I was fortunate enough to walk through the centre of London last Monday, the day of her state funeral and the atmosphere was one of respect; the streets quieter than they would normally be on a Monday evening. 

While I walked around, I realised that the funeral had been completed, the dignitaries from all over the world would be flying home, and the news would begin a new cycle. The news is a very hungry beast. 

I reflected on the change of leadership that the Queen’s departure leaves us here in UK, and also what it meant to me personally. 

I grew up in London during the 80’s and 90’s, where the Queen featured regularly in the media and on the TV. What I hadn’t realised though, was how this background figure and figurehead had actually played a role in my own perspective of leadership. One of a Queen, and a powerful woman in Leadership. 

The Queens funeral was watched by 37 million in the UK and 4 billion worldwide. Can you even fathom how incredible those numbers are? The entire population of the world today is 7.9 billion. So if we do some nifty maths that means 50% of the entire world watched this woman’s funeral. 

My mind is blown. 

Those are such impressive numbers, and an incredible way to understand how the Queen stood at the very highest levels of power and influence. Even as a frail 96 year old woman. 

I have really tried to rack my brain for another woman on earth who could even come close to this level of influence today. In the past maybe you could say Mother Theresa? Who else would draw in that many viewers for their funeral? Could you imagine that many numbers for Kim Kardashian? 

Even if you think of the world’s most powerful men, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos… would that many people want to watch their funerals? 

Viewing figures aside, one thing I realised is that there had always been a sense of comfort for me knowing that there was a leader who was a woman on the world stage. Add to that the fact that she was a continuous presence of power and influence for 70 years. 

No matter what absolute s*** show might be going on with the country’s politicians, she was always around, adding her matriarchal oversight and feminine (albeit traditional) touch. 

The tone of the leadership of the Royal family has now changed with King Charles III. I imagine he will still continue to be passionate about the environment and he has a deep sense of duty to continue to serve the UK. But I am feeling sad about the fact that a woman’s perspective is now no longer at the helm. There will not be another Queen in my lifetime. It is no longer “Her Majesty’s Service” but His. 

Will this focus back to patriarchal norms, mean that a shift occurs in the UK? 

When I lived in Japan I remember thinking that one of the reasons that women had more freedom from societal expectations in the UK was that we had a Queen, a woman in power who did what she wanted to do. This matriarchal presence gave us permission to do what we wanted to do, even if we didn’t realise the impact at the time. We have now had 3 women as Prime Ministers in the UK, it’s not a surprise they are all from the Tory party. They too grew up seeing a woman in power, one who believed in tradition and conservative values. You can become what you see. 

When a leader, right at the very top of any organisation changes, the tone of that organisation changes.

You see this evidenced everywhere. 

When Sir Alex Fergerson left Manchester United, the club changed. When you have a new President of the United States, the tone changes. It makes sense because that person, the leader, the experiences that shaped them; their gender, their background, their training, their upbringing, their perspective – all of this contributes to them developing their vision. 

This vision sets the tone for the organisation. If the person changes, the tone changes. 

I remember when I saw this in real time in my own life. I was working at a school and the Headteacher, and the monarch of the school, retired. She had led the school with her vision for 19 years, and turned it from a challenging school to one where the kids now went off to some of the best universities in the country. She led with heart and care, and she had originally been a drama teacher so a bit of a flair too. Once she retired a new Headteacher came in, who was much more focused on business. She had an MBA, and had originally been a maths teacher, so the working environment because much more logical and focused on results. 

Different people, different tones of leadership. 

How companies can set the tone of their organisation through leadership fascinates me to this day, and is something that my team and I at Slate Digital love to help our clients master.

If you need help understanding the tone of your leadership and organisation, or want some help in developing your talent, please do reach out for a free 30 minute strategy call. My team and I love what we do, and we know how important it is to develop the best leaders so that you can set the right tone for the future of your business, today. 

Get in touch and let’s chat about your ideas and goals.