The sad news of the death of former Prime Minister, Baroness Margaret Thatcher this week has caused controversy in the media. Supporters praise the Baroness for her influence on British politics in what was a tough economic and social climate as well as paving the way for other female politicians. Others complained about the rise in taxes, the increased unemployment, and the decline of coal and mining industries during her tenure as Prime Minister.

Whatever your opinion, the amount of activity on social media sites proves that the Baroness had, and still has, a great influence across the globe which has created a strong emotional response in people – both negative and positive. So what made the Baroness such an influential and inspiring leader?  What can we learn from her life to enable us to become better leaders and develop others to do the same?

In leadership, having strong convictions as well as the courage and resolve to stand by and fight for these is hugely important for employee engagement and team satisfaction.  Making tough decisions and dealing with issues quickly and efficiently in a fair way promote an open environment and inspire employees to continue even in the face of adversity.

Believing in the team and common goals while actively encouraging employees to take responsibility for their own part will inspire them to pull together as a team and exceed expectation.  Understanding the issues and challenges affecting the team and all its members will also help to diminish the divide between leaders and team members.

Undoubtedly, the Baroness had a great influence in motivating women into politics and senior business positions; she always advocated rewarding and promoting on merit rather than gender or background. Providing a fair and open environment shows integrity in a leader and gains trust from employees.

Above all, the Baroness proved that leaders need to be flexible and able to manage effectively through ambiguity.   In the current economic climate, it is just as important now as it was then to react quickly to change, to learn from every situation, and to make tough decisions.