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

As the Mayor of Toronto, one of the world’s most diverse cities, David faced the challenge of how to make his city work for everyone, not just those that were easy to connect with.

David told us of the challenges he faced in extending the city’s public transport system, which were logistically numerous. But when it came to leadership, David spoke of feeling a real sense of social responsibility – that bringing public transport to the low income neighbourhoods of the city was essential. It would, for him, bring these people ‘into the fabric of the city.

His passion came from this social responsibility but it was also fuelled by the understanding  that, as a leader, doing nothing was not an option.

By not engaging with people who feel disenfranchised, the problem doesn’t go away; it festers and manifests itself in negative attitudes and actions.

David proposed that “if [as a leader] you believe in social democracy, you have to listen [to others] and take their voices seriously; otherwise they will say ‘what about me?’” Doing nothing is not an option – we have to be inclusive, we have to cross those boundaries, we have to use our Cultural Intelligence, and we have to have those difficult conversations, if we want to come to a real solution.