Post originally appeared in LinkedIn

For three days, I've had the privilege of hosting almost 200 international C-level communications leaders at the Page Society conference in Toronto, organized around the theme of "Leadership Across Borders."

While a short post can't do justice to these rich conversations, here's a taste of seven imperatives on our minds:

1. BUILDING SUSTAINABLE VALUE: Marc de Swaan Arons of the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford unveiled research on the drivers of stakeholder value creation, and Barbara Zvan of University Pension Plan Ontario shared a visionary institutional investor's perspective on how to manage and measure it.

2. BREAKING DOWN SOLITUDES: Michaëlle Jean, Canada's 27th Governor-General, shared her extraordinary story and challenged the idea that business should be neutral on social justice issues. Often, neutrality (or silence) means complicity. Leadership is about making choices. Listen wholly, elevate dialogue and invite others into relationships.

3. REDUCING POLARIZATION: Patricia AudiJon ErlichmanKen Mehlman, and Matt Murray shared perspectives on polarization from the worlds of politics, business and journalism. This three-country panel considered how business leaders can support better political dialogue, and earn trust through business models that solve societal problems.

4. CREATING CUSTOMER VALUE THROUGH ETHICAL USE OF AI: Steven Weber of University of California, Berkeley and Google DeepMind's Dex Hunter-Torricke envisaged machines as our co-creators in a 'zero-trust world' where verification is essential. They asked a critical question about new technology: How do we ensure it creates shared value for the organization and the customer?

5. FOSTERING FEARLESS, CARING & ADAPTABLE CULTURES: Susan Senecal told Andrew Willis how A&W Food Services of Canada Inc. leaned into the ambiguity of the pandemic to start powerful conversations. The Second City's Kelly Leonard (He/Him) inspired us to 'play the scene you're in', demonstrating how improvisational strategies such as 'yes, and' (or 'thank you, because') can replace fear and judgment with abundant ideas and cultures of creativity.

6. REMOVING BARRIERS TO INCLUSION: Michael Jacobs of the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business and the BlackNorth Initiative's Dahabo A. helped us push through the fear of 'saying something wrong or being wrong' to embrace difficult conversations about racism and reconciliation. Dahabo: 'It's the art of being compassionate with someone you may never understand.' Mike: 'It's not about translation; it's about finding a common language.'

7. LEADING WITH IMPACT: Ron Carucci framed employee engagement as an answer to two big questions: 'Do I matter?' and 'Do I belong?' Belonging is created not by messaging, but by experience. Impactful leaders use communication to create clear, consistent identities, demonstrate transparent decision-making and "fair accountability," and foster cross-functional collaboration.