Say nothing and wave: majestic behaviour to note

Business leaders would do well to take a lesson from the queen when it comes to public behaviour.

Hire an image consultant and they will advise you to cut your hair short. That is unless you are planning to be a rock star or an edgy actor, in which case they will counsel the growing of conveniently situated facial hair, a goatee perhaps, or a tab. Those with insignificant amounts of hair will be told a very short cut is in order - or possibly to wear a hat. I'm told the panama is very much in fashion this season.

If you are a company you will be informed that your look is old-fashioned. What you need is a new logo, even if the old one is widely loved and instantly recognisable. A good example of this is the millions that Gap recently splashed out on a new logo. Only a concerted effort by a fanatical band of shoppers, organised via Facebook, persuaded the clothing company to do a volte-face and change it back.

For all the insistence that we live in a "fast-moving, ever changing" world, there is something rather nice about constancy. While we may soon no longer have snow on the Himalayas or bowler hats in the City of London, it is good that some things remain as they always were.

In 1953, Britain was a rather bleak, austere place - a cynic might observe that is another thing that has not changed. The England football team were losing, humiliated by Hungary's "flying Magyars", Wimbledon was won by a young American, and a fresh-faced queen ascended the throne.

Since then, Queen Elizabeth II has endured her fair share of triumphs and disasters. The Empire has mostly disappeared, although the Falkland Islands were successfully won back; her children have married and (mostly) divorced; her grandson has just announced his engagement and is due to marry in Westminster Abbey next April, where the royals of Britain have been married and crowned since the 11th century. In 1992 Windsor Castle, her home, was badly damaged by fire, and the family was rocked by the publication of Andrew Morton's book on Princess Diana. She described the year as her "annus horribilis" and remarked drily: "1992 is not a year that I shall look back on with undiluted pleasure."

How did she react to these setbacks? With stoicism, tenacity and dignity. Contrast this with the behaviour of Tony Hayward, the BP boss, when the Macondo oil platform blew. Giving daily briefings to the press, he ended up sounding either callous or insincere. Telling reporters that he wanted his "life back" was downright dim when the explosion killed 11 workers.

Business leaders could learn a lot from Her Majesty's style. Faced with adversity, say little, preferably nothing. Take yesterday's gathering at the Emirates Palace Hotel. It was a celebration of the UK and UAE's friendship. There were speeches, there was music and dancing, but the queen, while present, was largely silent.

A brand consultant I met while waiting to see her told me it would be impossible to value her worth to Britain Inc. As a figure, she is clearly a "superbrand". Brand Finance, which puts together an annual list of the world's most valuable brands, says that America's Walmart is the most valuable, worth a whopping US$41 billion (Dh150.59bn). I think this is tosh, although I can see the value in both Google, which came second, and Coca-Cola, in third place.

Leading the pack in the Middle East and North Africa is Emirates Airline. It has achieved a brand value of $3.5bn by delivering a fine service but also by using a marketing strategy linked to sport. No doubt its advisers were hoping to emulate the queen. She pioneered this sort of activity decades ago with her trenchant commitment to mainly equestrian events. Whether smiling at Ascot, watching Prince Philip's carriage negotiate a series of obstacles, or watching her sons playing polo, her image is essentially sporty.

This image is one that many of the assembled throng could not only identify with, but admire. Lynda Shephard, an artist who also runs the Creative Arts Centre in Dubai, had travelled down just to pay her respects. "I think the queen is one of the best things that Britain has got," Ms Shephard told me. "She does wonders for our country, especially in the area of cultural exchanges. Her image is perfect, she is like a mother figure."

I ran into three glamorous Middle Eastern women. They had positioned themselves in front of the doors to ensure that when they opened they would secure front-row seats. "She is my idol," said one. "She is hard-working, tenacious and very humble." Another told me: "She is a fantastic lady, out of this world." The third simply added: "She's a legend."

I followed their lead and together we bagged a spot very near the front. There was a thrill when we heard the sound of school children cheering, marking the arrival of the monarch, together with Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and other dignitaries. And then she appeared in that style she has made all her own, a "symbol of serenity" as one of the young poets reading aloud described her. She walked in one door, chatted to a few of the great and the good, sat down, then walked out of the other door exactly half an hour after she had entered. To the public, she said nothing, but smiled and waved.

Business leaders everywhere should take note. Next time you are invited on to CNBC to discuss your company's share price, just smile and wave and let the figures do the talking.