Creating a Positive Company Culture: Insights from Leadership Expert Jim Van Allen

Introduction: The Power of Positivity in Leadership

Hello, I’m Doug Thorpe, host of the podcast “Leadership Powered by Common Sense,” and today I want to share with you some powerful insights from a recent discussion I had with Jim Van Allen, an expert in creating positive company cultures. As a leader, whether you’re at the helm of a startup or managing a team within a larger organization, understanding the dynamics of company culture is crucial. It’s the bedrock that supports your brand and retains top talent. So, let’s dive into the transformative ideas that Jim and I explored.

The Journey to Positive Leadership

My journey into the realm of leadership was fueled by a passion for fostering positivity and resilience within teams. When I invited Jim Van Allen to the show, I knew his experience as president of the Energy Bus for Schools would offer invaluable lessons. Jim’s story is a testament to the power of initiative. From reaching out to motivational speaker John Gordon as a college student to becoming an integral part of growing a business that impacts educational leaders nationwide, Jim’s path shows that seeking mentorship can shape your destiny.

The Essence of John Gordon’s Work

Jim provided an executive summary of John Gordon’s work, emphasizing the competitive advantage of positivity. Gordon’s books are a treasure trove of research, fables, and case studies that illustrate the profound impact of positive leadership on business and culture. The message is clear: it’s the optimists who change the world, not the pessimists.

Overcoming Negativity and Embracing Resilience

One of the biggest challenges leaders face is the tendency to focus on the negative. Jim shared a compelling analogy involving a piece of white paper with a black dot. This represents how leaders often fixate on the negative aspects, overlooking the vast positive space. To counteract this, leaders must develop resilience, a quality that allows them to deflect negativity and maintain a clear perspective on their goals.

Resilience in the Post-Pandemic World

The concept of resilience has gained prominence, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Leaders must now navigate a world without the traditional 9-to-5 boundaries, often working remotely and around the clock. Resilience is about developing the mental toughness to prioritize effectively and execute action steps without getting bogged down by negativity.

Advice for Emerging Leaders

For younger leaders, the challenge is to shift away from the social media mindset where external validation dictates self-worth. Leadership requires a balance between respecting others’ opinions and making decisions for the greater good. It’s about building culture, fostering relationships, and having the courage to engage in difficult conversations when necessary.

Cultivating a Positive Culture in an Established Team

When stepping into a leadership role with an existing team, the key is to avoid immediate, sweeping changes. Instead, focus on understanding the team dynamics, building relationships, and gradually aligning the team with your vision. This approach ensures a smoother transition and a more cohesive culture.

Conclusion: The Leader’s Role in Shaping Culture

As we wrapped up our conversation, it became clear that whether you’re starting fresh or inheriting a team, the leader’s role in shaping culture is pivotal. It’s about striking a balance between being receptive to feedback and staying true to your vision. By fostering a positive, resilient mindset, leaders can inspire their teams to achieve remarkable results.

Remember, leadership is not just about managing tasks; it’s about nurturing an environment where positivity thrives and where every team member feels valued and motivated. As I continue to explore these themes in my podcast, I invite you to join me on this journey of discovery and growth. Together, let’s empower ourselves and our teams to reach new heights with the power of positive leadership.

Guest Bio:

Dr. Jim Van Allan is an accomplished speaker and trainer for schools and organizations across the country. He is the president of The Energy Bus for Schools program and works directly with best-selling author, Jon Gordon. He is also a Professor of Communication Studies and Lead Speech Instructor with Keiser University. Jim teaches classes on Public Speaking, Business Communications, and Interpersonal Communications.

Jim runs the successful professional development program called The Energy Bus for Schools. It is based on Jon Gordon’s best selling book, The Energy Bus, and helps schools create a positive campus culture. Jim has known international best-selling author Jon Gordon for 17 years and speaks at over 50 events and conferences a year. He is a nationally-sought after speaker and education leader. He hosts monthly coaching sessions for superintendents, principals, and teachers.




Small business owners will hit an invisible wall that can stall the growth of the company. The key reason there is a wall is that owners need to shift from manager to leader. The question is, how to do that?

Doug is a coach for CEOs and Senior Leadership Teams with 30 years of leadership experience. He is the president & CEO of Doug Thorpe Group. Doug is also a podcast host.

He helps owners understand the ways they need to reshape their thinking and attitude to make a successful break through the wall.

Learn how to move from Founder to CEO.

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