Lessons from Downton Abbey
After six seasons, the popular PBS series Downton Abbey has ended. As the series unfolded, we watched the characters evolve through many changes in their society and personal lives. As the characters changed and matured, there were numerous lessons and wisdom for life demonstrated in the show.
“Leadership through visible action is always effective.” -Bruce Rhoades
Each of these characters also demonstrated leadership attributes that can be learned from watching them deal with the various situations that confronted them.
Here are a few of the leadership lessons exhibited by the characters:
Lesson from Lord Grantham: Often the ‘best man for the job’ is a woman.
Robert Crawley, Lord Grantham
- No strategy will work forever. Watch for environmental and market changes and adapt.
- Learn to delegate to those who are more suited to new endeavors. Take their advice, trust them and start small.
- For long-term viability, a leader needs to groom successors and allow others to exercise their talent.
- A successful leader needs to attract those with complementary skills to his/her own, then allow them to take action.
- Often the “best man for the job” is a woman.
“A successful leader needs to attract those with complementary skills, then allow them to take action.” –Bruce Rhoades
Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham
- Communication, patience and being non-judgmental are necessary to allow others to adapt to change.
- Sometimes it is most effective to act quietly and consistently in small ways to effect change. Open confrontation elicits defensiveness in others.
- Open acceptance and acknowledgement of others builds trust and opens communication.
- Sometimes keeping the peace in the short term provides opportunities for change in the long term.
“Keep the peace in the short term to allow change in the long term.” –Bruce Rhoades
Mr. Carson, the Butler
- Giving orders works in the short term but does not create lasting change or personal growth in others.
- Be respectful of those in your charge, you may need them later to move forward.
- Failure to acknowledge change weakens your leadership.
- Expecting perfection limits and stifles the efforts of those around you.
- Management by intimidation does not create loyalty.
“Expecting perfection limits and stifles the efforts of those around you.” –Bruce Rhoades
“Failure to acknowledge change weakens your leadership.” –Bruce Rhoades
Lady Mary Crawley
- Wisdom can come from any level in the organization.
- Arrogance does not foster collaboration, trust or effective leadership.
- Putting others down does not build you up.
- For continued success, a leader must acknowledge change and act accordingly.
Lady Edith Crawley
- Truthfulness will always yield the best, lasting results.
- Do not overcomplicate the situation and delay action.
- Measured risk-taking and action builds confidence.
- Don’t let the future be dictated by the past.
Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess
- Deal with the situation, not the person. Acceptance of the person creates trust.
- Ignoring a changing environment does not solve anything.
- Know when to let others take the lead.
- Sometimes a leader needs to give stern, unpopular advice.
- Humor can reduce tension and create a more open atmosphere.