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Creating Positive Company Culture: 5 Highlights from a NYC School

Ana Zaldarriaga
Ana Zaldarriaga

At a recent Citywide Professional Development Day, our President went out to the field to do a keynote presentation and came back finding herself surprisingly inspired. In NYC, this is usually a day when many other schools and agencies ask us to provide them with various leadership development workshops, so imagine how exciting it was to find motivation in a principal’s presentation to his staff when we were hired to be their motivation. In a large auditorium of over 150 people, this principal not only engaged his staff, but reminded our own leader how to create and maintain a positive culture.

Here are some of his unforgettable highlights to remember:

Celebrate Success. It is so important to find cause for celebration! This principal publicly listed people’s work accomplishments, from administrative staff to custodians. Whether it is a group accomplishment or just one person’s, placing a spotlight on the positive brightens everyone’s day. Each person’s positive contribution makes an impact on the whole. Note that while work successes are important, acknowledging your employees’ personal success or milestones goes an even longer way. This communicates personal care for the members in your team, and shows them that you value what they value, which makes them dedicated and long-term employees. This principal really demonstrated the work-life balance by also celebrating the personal successes such as a new baby or new home.

Be TransparentBy disclosing pertinent information to your staff, you are letting them know that there are open lines of communication, and that rank and seniority don’t take precedence to being informed. Sharing the state of affairs of your company communicates trust and openness which builds loyalty among employees. This school was on a SINI list and had a hard year, but he showed that solidarity can overcome obstacles by speaking about it frankly.

Encourage Initiative and Support GrowthCreate opportunities for others to grow and step into their leadership! In this school that was failing, people had to try new approaches, take on different roles, and create new systems as a way to see what other options for positive change existed. This can be daunting, but if failure is expected, nurtured, and encouraged as a means to finding a solution then employees are more willing to take risks that have a higher payoff in the end.

Bring in an Expert. No one company holds all the keys to success, so don’t be afraid to let an expert come in and help shake things up a bit. Trust an outsider, bring in a breath of fresh air, and show your staff that you are willing to invest in their development by bringing in others to share new knowledge and practices with them. We were brought in to try new strategies with his staff in hopes of getting them inspired to innovate.

Seek Inspiration. Don’t ever get too comfortable and think that the culture can’t get better. People always need a fresh perspective, a jolt of ideas, etc. Always look for creative ideas to infuse into your company’s culture, or at the very least, find some other great examples and see what else you can learn.


Have some highlights you want to share? Please do so in the comments section below!



"Creating Positive Company Culture: 5 Highlights from a NYC School", The Leadership Program, Inc. 2016


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Ana Zaldarriaga

By Ana Zaldarriaga

Ana Zaldarriaga Pronouns: she/her/hers Sr. Dir. of Employee Development The Leadership Program 535 8th Avenue, Floor 16 New York City, NY 10018 Phone: 212.625.8001 Fax: 212.625.8020 tlpnyc.com “…building strong leaders in classrooms and communities."