When you’re leading a large—huge—company, chances are, you’re going to get a lot of people seeking you out for advice. Nina Barton, president of Kraft Heinz Canada, has noticed one question, in particular, that keeps popping up. “The one I get the most is, ‘How do I get to your level?’” the Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., native tells us. “It’s a very fair question. But I also don’t think there’s any magic bullet. It’s a series of decisions; my path is my path, but anyone else can find a successful path as well.”
So, we did what anyone would do and asked Barton how she got to where she is. Here’s what we learned about becoming a leader in the workplace from the Canadian exec.
1. First of all, listen
“My mantra is always to ‘seek first to understand, then be understood.’ I spend a lot of time trying to understand a situation, what we’re trying to achieve, what the organization is trying to say and what the challenges are so we can lead in the best way. Obviously, you have the reports and the plans, but in my mind, they won’t tell you the full story. Walk around, talk to your team, ask open-ended questions to understand what’s on their minds. Understand what they’re telling you, plus how they are telling you—do they have a sparkle in their eye, are they excited?”
2. Repeat, repeat, repeat
“You have to realize that when you’re presenting your vision, you need to do it multiple times. You can’t just do it once and move on. People consume information in different ways, so giving them multiple ways to hear the story, being clear and bringing them along on that story, is really important.”
3. There’s one cliché that will always be true
“You know, hard work really does pay off in the long run. It was a value my parents instilled in me. If you do the hard work with integrity, things will work come out well in the end. I’ve been worried about things that are outside of my control throughout my career, but I focus on the things that I can control, that I can influence. That means focusing on the business and the team and developing a great organization.”
4. You can’t get anywhere without a great team
“The success I’ve had in my career is because I’ve spent a lot of time building phenomenal teams and it’s something I’m super passionate about. If you have a phenomenal team behind you, you can achieve almost anything. Look for people who have a curiosity, a passion and for people who are going to vocal. You want people who will be vocal in their opinion, because when you have open dialogue, you get really good outcomes. And then leading that team in a way that inspires them every single day is something that’s critically important.”
For the latest in fashion, beauty and culture, sign up to receive ELLE's daily newsletter.