Three HR lessons from The Crown

Three HR lessons from The Crown

Three HR lessons from The Crown The sprawling, royal epic The Crown has returned to our screens for a second season, after its debut series scooped up a bevy of awards and accolades.

The story of our current monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, the show documents her life, her relationships and her dedication to the royal family. However, whilst The Crown is an entertaining drama in itself, it also holds some revealing truths for HR leaders.

Succession planning
When young Elizabeth is growing up, she understands that one day she’ll be the Queen. However, despite the best efforts of her family, her father’s early death means she’s thrust into the position long before she’s ready – which leaves her feeling underprepared.

Often left to the very last moment, failing to upskill a successor for an outgoing executive could have harmful repercussions. A study from PwC found that 10-15% of organizations have to about a new CEO every year, due to retirement or dismissal. Despite this, just 54% of boards are actively grooming their new chief executive – leaving a worrying gap in the leadership team. Don’t let executive recruitment creep up on you – have a designated leader in the pipeline.

Skills vs experience
After her coronation as Queen, Elizabeth realises that her power is limited, especially when it comes to conforming with royal convention. As a Princess, Elizabeth had long-time friend Martin Charteris as her Private Secretary – however, on her ascension he was replaced with Tommy Lascelles, who had more skills, but less experience in dealing with Elizabeth’s private affairs.

When it comes to recruitment, there’s a debate around whether skills or qualifications are more important in a candidate. Richard Branson reportedly places personality and experience over education.

He wrote in his blog: “I never judge people by their education and qualifications. The first thing we look for at Virgin when hiring new staff is personality, which always wins over book smarts or job-specific skills — the latter can be learned. We also give a lot of weight to experience."

Diversity in the C-suite
Perhaps the most impressive characteristic of Elizabeth II, is that she managed to accomplish so much, garner the respect of all her staff, whilst being a woman in a man’s world. Her leadership style was decidedly calm and conscientious, she listened to the opinions of others and instilled followership in her subjects – all whilst challenging the bias and gender discrimination rife in 1950s England.

According to a review from the Canadian Securities Administrators of Canada’s largest 215 companies, women represented just 18% of the board – however, this figure increased in finance, as the nation’s biggest banks hold a 35% ratio of women at C-suite level.

Whilst this may seem positive on the surface, the imbalance in the numbers does suggest that we have a way to go before total workplace equality is prevalent.

And The Crown’s not the only award-winning drama to hold some key HR lessons – take a look at what you can learn from Game of Thrones here.


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