Leadership – Lessons from a Life in Diplomacy

7. November 2022 18:00

Simon McDonald, Lord McDonald of Salford

In his first book, Simon McDonald assumes that thinking about leadership before you lead helps you lead better. Over four decades in HM Diplomatic Service, Simon worked for four permanent under-secretaries and a dozen senior ambassadors before becoming permanent under-secretary himself and leading the Service (which has over 14,000 staff in 270 countries worldwide) for five years. He also worked directly for six foreign secretaries and saw five ministers work at close quarters. Observing these people undertaking the most important and often the most difficult work in the country, Simon saw the behaviours that helped them achieve their objectives, and those that hindered them. He then had the chance to try to apply that learning. In a closing chapter that considers the future of leadership in the UK, Simon McDonald makes a compelling case for the reform of the monarchy, the cabinet, civil service, and, in particular, the House of Lords, of which he has been a member since 2021.

The event will be chaired by Rupert Graf Strachwitz, Vice Chairman, Deutsch-Britische Gesellschaft.

Please join the event by using this link: (No prior registration required!) https://us06web.zoom.us/j/82326335435?pwd=UXdINi9GZDlLaDMvM0ZDeitrcjVMdz09

Simon McDonald was born and educated in Salford, and read History at Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he is now an Honorary Fellow. He joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in 1982 and, early in his career, served in Jeddah, Riyadh, Bonn and Washington, D.C. He was British Ambassador to Israel (2003-2006) and to Germany (2010-15). In September 2015 Simon became Permanent Under-Secretary at the FCO and Head of the Diplomatic Service. After leaving the FCO in Autumn 2020, he was appointed a life peer, taking his seat in the House of Lords as a crossbencher in February 2021. Simon is a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George (GCMG) and Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (KCVO). In 2022, he became known for writing to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner Kathryn Stone to highlight “inaccurate claims” made by Downing Street regarding the allegations of inappropriate behaviour against MP Chris Pincher. Simon became the 39th Master of Christ’s College, Cambridge, on 1 September 2022. His book is available from 16 November 2022.