Public Transit Authority: Organizational Alignment and Leadership Development


A major public transit authority recognized the need to shift their organizational culture to make safety a top priority for employees at all levels within the organization. gothamCulture was contracted to partner with the organization’s leaders to conduct a mixed-methods organizational culture assessment to gain insight into its current culture and, from there, begin implementation of sustainable organizational change across senior team alignment, leadership development, organization processes, and safety.


gothamCulture began to conduct a rigorous assessment of the organization’s culture, with a focus on factors related to accidents and incidents, perspectives and attitudes regarding safety, and capabilities of proactively identifying and mitigating risk.

The comprehensive, mixed-methods data gathering effort had two main components: a division-wide culture survey, and targeted interviews and focus groups. The Denison Organizational Culture Survey (DOCS) utilizes a global database for benchmarking clients against over 1,000 other organizations and was deployed organization-wide to determine the level of clarity and alignment across different demographics and sectors. Given the highly operational environment at the transit authority, the survey data was collected via online and paper surveys to ensure equitable access for both in-office employees and field position employees.

The gothamCulture team also designed the qualitative interview and focus group protocols. These facilitated conversations supplemented the DOCS and aimed to spur dialogue about safety culture and other target factors, and were conducted with a wide variety of employees and leadership. When both components of data collection were complete, gothamCulture analyzed the data and created a comprehensive report detailing the findings and recommendations.

With the culture assessment findings as a basis for developing targeted and germane interventions, gothamCulture worked closely with transit authority leadership to establish four teams around the areas of focus: senior team leadership alignment, leadership development, organization processes, and safety culture. Interventions within each area of focus relied on evolving and embedding values and behaviors within the organization that supports safe and efficacious work performance.

Drawing specific attention was leadership development, which emerged as the area of greatest need. A tailored leadership development training was designed and delivered to virtually all employees within the organization, including the senior team members. The latter group also participated in complementary work catered to build trust and improve communication. As an additional layer of support in this area, individualized coaching was provided to facility directors and senior leaders, with a focus on helping participants work toward common goals, both within and across their teams.


Thorough measurement and evaluation of the work demonstrated the clear impact of these interventions on senior alignment, leadership development, process improvement, and overall performance. While carefully assessing performance metrics and providing guidance across the four areas of focus, gothamCulture continues an ongoing partnership with the public transit authority through overall program management, safety team advisory services, communications development, and revision of operational policy and standard operating procedures.