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Key perspectives on business leadership from our NATIONAL Toronto Managing Partner

Key perspectives on business leadership from our NATIONAL Toronto Managing Partner

Just over a year ago, I was appointed Managing Partner of NATIONAL Toronto. I was confident we’d set a compelling vision and a solid plan for the business, though I knew we could only be successful if we had buy-in from the full team. Collaboration unlocks innovation and growth, and this approach will continue to be critical in driving success in the Toronto office.

It has been a great year and a true adventure—in the best possible way. Reflecting on the experience, I’ve come away with a few insights on culture and leadership that will inform our approach in the years ahead.

1. Culture is not office dependent

If a workplace culture depends on four walls and in-person presence every day, you don’t have a culture, you have an office. Culture is about purpose and the connection people have with their workplace, the work, and their colleagues, regardless of what they’re working on, on any given day. Our culture is supportive, growth-focused, inclusive, and accountable. We’re also fun, with no shortage of social events happening on any given week. When we made the decision on a hybrid return to office last spring, we focused on creating purposeful and meaningful opportunities to connect both IRL, and virtually. Activities focused on collaboration, professional development, fun, and community. Asking people to return just for the sake of it wasn’t productive—we knew we needed to provide compelling in-office activities that would be a source of inspiration, learning and team bonding. More on that below.

2. IRL connections are essential

In the same vein, we are a hybrid office. Our team members manage their time effectively whether they are working from home, or from our office, but we can confidently say the learning opportunities and connections we foster when we’re together in person are a fundamental part of how we approach our work and achieve excellence for our clients. Everyone is present on Wednesdays and one other day per week, based on what makes sense for their teams, clients, and other commitments. There are many who come to the office more frequently because they like the space and the camaraderie that comes with seeing colleagues in person. We have seen a tremendous improvement in engagement, collaboration, mentorship, and teamwork since we returned. And best of all, and while many would assume the opposite, we have seen retention levels increase since we came back together last spring.

3. Trust and transparency are critical

Over the course of my career, I’ve held leadership positions within several organizations. The most successful (both culturally and financially) operated with transparency as paramount to fuelling employee trust. A fundamental part of my approach at NATIONAL Toronto is sharing business results with employees. At NATIONAL Toronto we’ve instated quarterly all-staff meetings to update the team on how we’re tracking towards our office goals. From the feedback we’ve received, our team appreciates this information and they’re energized by the wins and opportunities that are coming our way. But we have made it clear—with transparency comes accountability. Our people are brilliant, strategic, and bring immense value to our decision-making and fiscal planning. We are better for having their input, and their buy-in.

4. Putting a growth mindset into action is key

We’re a culture that prioritizes a growth mindset in all that we do. As a strategic agency partner to all our clients, we pride ourselves on being innovative thinkers that are always a step ahead of the trends. Talking about growth mindset helps people understand what it means and why it’s important. On a practical level, we’ve developed trainings and opportunities to put this into action. Everyone has a role to play in business and professional development. Empowered people make our business stronger—and our people have a deeper commitment to building their careers at NATIONAL. We want to unlock the entrepreneurial spirit in each of our team members and enable our people to be leaders within the business. Our people are our best advocates, and they are the ultimate ambassadors for our brand. Building the business is a collective effort, not the focus of a few and that philosophy has been critical in enabling us to achieve success.

As the saying goes, it takes a village. No one person or approach creates a vibrant culture. But when you focus on empowering and taking care of your people, foster opportunities for them to grow and contribute to the success of your business, and you drive the right behaviours, you can create a work community the whole team can be proud of. This last year has been so rewarding, and I look forward to many more. When you work with the best and most talented group of individuals in the industry, it makes delivering at work every single day not just rewarding, but immensely fun.

Need help applying these key lessons? NATIONAL's team of seasoned experts provides comprehensive assistance to business leaders, helping them optimize their operations and communications. Leveraging our deep knowledge and industry experience, we offer strategic insights and tailored solutions to enhance efficiency, foster innovation, and boost competitiveness, empowering businesses to excel in their respective sectors.