Gatekeepers of Culture: You Have More Influence Than You Think

Sometimes, I feel a little like a Disney princess. Let me explain.

The SKHQ office is located in a building in the financial district of Manhattan, on the 20th floor. Every morning I sweep in, juggling my coffee, my phone, whatever book I am reading, and the rest of my life in my backpack.

Good morning! I chirp.

Good morning! Says Doorman #1.

Good morning, Sabina! Says Doorman #2.

Twentieth floor, Sabina? I got you. Says Doorman #3.

And then on the way out the door at 5pm, the Evening Greeter would call, Goodnight, dear! And I would return the sentiment.

I know, I can practically see the squirrels holding up the train of my ball gown too.

My point is, it’s a lovely experience to enter and leave the building where I work. Both the beginning and end of my day bring moments of joy and goodwill.

You can imagine my disappointment when I saw someone new on my way out, one day. My usual friend wasn’t there in the evenings anymore! But still, I called, Goodnight!

Have a good night! She answered back.

And so it continues now. Each day beginning and ending with a chorus of greetings, no matter who stands there to greet me.

A few months after the change in the Evening Greeter, it hit me that the previous gentleman had started a culture within that lobby of saying goodbye each night. When he left, it was a no-brainer for me to continue that culture; it was automatic behavior. By doing so, I clued in the new lady on what to expect of the culture of the ground floor.

Being a Gatekeeper of Culture

In Dance Floor Theory, we talk about how good leaders create parties that continue long after they are gone. In other words, they don’t take the culture they built with them when they leave because they included everyone in it from the start. Their ego has nothing to do with why the culture is successful because it doesn’t actually NEED them in the first place, other than to set the wheels in motion.

All of this leads me to one final thought: You have more influence on the culture of your community than you think. Your actions, words, and attitude matter, as they model to everyone else what will happen even when you change careers, graduate, or get promoted.

What are some moments in your day where you can make an impact in the culture? Perhaps it is when…

  • You get your morning coffee or banana
  • You receive packages from FedEx
  • A visitor seems lost in your building
  • New neighbors move in
  • You walk your dog in the evening

How can you transform these moments into joyful interactions? Remember- culture happens whether you try or not, and you have more influence than you think.

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