Reflecting on leadership insights of David Miller, Former Mayor of Toronto and North American director of the C40

When we asked him to give us the secret, David joked, “That’s the art of politics: bringing people together, to achieve one goal.

David unpacked the idea of this ‘art’, explaining that for him, it’s all about having a clear mandate – one shared goal. Using the example of expanding Toronto’s public transport system, David told us an all too familiar story of working with silos.

For this project to succeed, he had to work with many diverse teams. He had to work with the Finance team, who had their own mandate to reduce costs. He had to work with the Economic Development team, whose mandate was to enhance prosperity.He had to work with numerous stakeholders,all with their own mandates, some of which had the potential to clash with each other.

David tackled this challenge by bringing the leaders of these silos together and co-creating a top-level plan which became the overarching mandate: one that, in principle, everyone had signed up to.

This mandate could be called upon when issues arose in the finer details, when silos clashed, and at sticking points in difficult conversations.

Having this mandate, this overarching goal, made it difficult for any of the silos to say ‘no’. Instead, all the silos were encouraged to bring their unique expertise together and work towards achieving the overall solution.

Contributor: David Miller 
David is the North American Director for the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, a former Mayor of Toronto, and former president and CEO of WWF-Canada (the Canadian division of the international World Wildlife Fund).