alive@work Blog with Joe Contrera

Latest Posts


The difference between a good leader and an extraordinary leader is clear in the minds of their people.

When a good leader is present, their people say “Look at what they have done!” When an extraordinary leader is present, their people say, “Look at what we haveaccomplished!”

What do your people say about you and your leadership?

Below is a list of 5 things extraordinary leaders know and do that moves them from being a good leader into being an extraordinary leader who achieves extraordinary results!

5 Things Extraordinary Leaders Know & Do:

  1. They know their job is to teach and not to do. They are much better at asking questions so that their people come to their own solutions then they are at giving them solutions, or telling them what to do and or how to do it!
  2. They hold themselves and their people accountable all the time, not just some of the time. They know that inconsistency in their behavior and their actions creates doubt. They know that people will not trust them if they don’t consistently hold them accountable.
  3. They know they are responsible to their people and not responsible for their people. They create a safe environment where their people can succeed and they don’t take responsibility or credit for their successes or beat themselves up when their people fail.
  4. They know to not do anything for their people that they can do for themselves and they know that their folks can do most things for themselves … if you let them. They know that their people don’t need to be saved, because their people are not broken nor do they need to be fixed. They trust them to do the work.
  5. They realize that their focus needs to be on helping their team to tap into their brilliance, their genius, and their strengths, so they can reach their fullest potential. That only happens when you ask them to play a bigger game and not allow them to be stopped by challenges, problems, or adversity. Extraordinary leaders call their people to be extraordinary!


Continue Reading

Posted by Joe Contrera in Executive Leadership Development, Leadership, Leadership Speaker, Leading Others, Results.

Leadership – Do You Draft or Pull?

A few years ago I participated in a Sprint Triathlon (a shorter version of a triathlon which includes swimming, cycling, and running). During the event, I had an opportunity to notice two different approaches by two different racers. Both people were involved in the exact same race and yet, having two completely different experiences.

Leader 1: A fifteen-year-old kid, pulling his developmentally challenged brother in a life raft behind him for 400 meters in a swimming pool while the crowd cheered them both on. He then pulled him in a cart for the bike portion, and finished by pushing him across the finish line in a different cart to complete the the race. Throughout the entire race, the look on his brothers face was sheer and utter joy. Why? He was in a race, he was swimming, cycling, and running with his big brother … he was part of a team!

Leader 2: A 30-something year-old racer who continuously drafted behind me during the cycling portion of the race. Drafting (using the space created behind another cyclist to avoid the resistance of the wind to save energy) is considered cheating and the rules specifically state, that if caught, you will be disqualified. To hide his intention, he moved to the side when passing the referees and judges and then would tuck back behind me when we were in the clear.

I was struck by the enormous gap between the purpose and intention of these racers. The fifteen-year-old young man was racing for his brother, his goal: give his brother an experience he could never achieve on his own. He didn’t care about his time or where he finished in the rankings as much as he cared about his brother. It wasn’t about him, it was about his team. Yes his team, his brother may not have been physically capable, but imagine the inspiration he felt when he looked behind him and saw the smile on his face or heard him cheering his older brother on.

The racer behind me who was cheating the system to move higher in the rankings was a different story. His race was all about him and winning. It didn’t matter if he cheated and broke the rules, he didn’t care. He was the epitome of what it means to be self-centered. He wasn’t willing to exert the effort required to work hard in order to win, instead he let others do the work while he cheated the system and took credit for their effort and hard work.

As a leader, each day you have to face yourself in the mirror. And while we all want to believe that we are more like the fifteen-year-old leader and not like the leader who cheated, we have to live with the decisions we make.

Are you a leader who believes that you don’t have to go out in front of the pack and lead by example? Do you believe that you can lay low and ride on the coattails of the work that other create? Do you believe that it’s okay to take credit for the work of others?


Are you willing to give your best effort each and every day regardless of the results? Are you more concerned with getting the team across the finish line or yourself? Would you sacrifice winning as an individual if it meant that the team would do better?

As a leader, each day you are faced with multiple decisions to be other-centered and inspire others, or to be self-centered and make it all about you.

Extraordinary leaders inspire others to do or to be their best. And when they are inspired by you, they will trust you, and when they trust you, they will follow you.

As we all stared in amazement at the courage of this young man swimming his heart out as he pulled his brother behind him in the pool and throughout the rest of the race, I couldn’t help but think about how much he inspired me to be a better person.

After-all … that is what great leaders do?

Continue Reading

Posted by Joe Contrera in Influencing Others, Joe Contrera, Leadership, Leading Others, Teamwork, Values.

Forgiveness: Elephants Can Forget!

“I’ve been tryin’ to get down … To the heart of the matter … But my will gets weak … And my thoughts seem to scatter … But I think it’s about forgiveness.”   Don Henley

Forgive and Forget?

While that sounds simple, it isn’t always easy!

Sometimes, atrocities happen in life that are caused by the actions of another person. Those can be extremely difficult situations to forgive the offender, and yet, it has been proven that forgiveness, even in those horrendous situations, allow the victim to set themselves free.

Sometimes, situations arise where we wonder how in the world could somebody be so offended or feel they were wronged. It could be the slow moving 16 year-old taking an order at McDonald’s, the speech delivered by an opposing political view, a 100 year-old statue, or a single word. In today’s world, people get offended at the most trivial things. Why? Because they believe that everything that happens in this world is a personal assault on them. Even when what the other person did or said has absolutely nothing to do with them, they search out reasons to remain entrapped in a pseudo-victim mentality, and they find one, even if it is not the truth.

But what about the situations where we conduct our own mini-version of Law & Order in our heads? We play the judge, the jury, and the prosecutor, in a courtroom where we are on trial and the verdict always ends in … guilty as charged.

Sometimes, what prevents us from moving to the next level of success is a self-imposed, imaginary glass ceiling that keeps us stuck in a place we don’t want to be in.

In most cases, I find that our level of success is directly tied to sense of self-worth and value, basically, what we believe about ourselves.

Sometimes, our sense of self-worth is impacted by beliefs that we were imprinted with by what someone (parent, sibling, relative, ex-spouse, teacher) did or said to us a long time ago. Maybe, the message was that we were no good or not good enough, and we can’t seem to shake those old beliefs. So we stay stuck because we don’t believe we deserve to be free, happy, or loved.

And then there are those times when the person we need to forgive most is ourselves. We made a poor choice in the past, a few bad decisions along the way, or we harmed ourselves or another person, and for some reason we just can’t forgive ourselves. The course for our lives was set when we made that decision and it can never be changed.

Regardless of the situation or reason, it is the lack of forgiveness for ourselves and others that keep us stuck. The crazy thing, is that some of us are holding onto old beliefs and ideas that are not the truth.

Yet, like trained circus elephants who have been tied to a stake for years, when the ropes are removed, offering them freedom, the animals choose to stay in the same area as if they are still tethered. They believe what they were trained to believe, I can’t move beyond this point, I don’t deserve to be happy, I don’t deserve success, I am a failure, It’s not safe to take risk, I will get hurt again, and on and on and on and …

Is Forgiveness Holding You Back?

Do you need to let go of some past hurt or act caused by another person (real or imagined) that has you believing you don’t deserve more?

Do you need to forgive yourself for a past mistake, failure, or a bad decision you made, that has you tethered by an invisible rope that only you can cut?

Yes, forgiveness and letting is not easy … if that’s what you believe.

Just remember that things will be difficult … until they’re not!

And that my friends … is completely up to you!


Continue Reading

Posted by Joe Contrera in Empowerment, Fear, Forgiveness, Happiness, Joe Contrera, Leadership Speaker, Success.

10 Decisions To Empower Yourself!

A friend of mine once asked me a question when I was going through a pretty tough time in my life … “Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?”

Believe it or not, my initial response was, “I want to be right dammit, don’t you?”

Over the course of my life, I have been in similar situations where I needed to choose how I was going to handle a particular decision. While the severity of the situation varied, there was always one fact that remained: I had choices.

I learned, that when I create options, and then choose one of them, I empower myself. I don’t have to like all of the options, I just need to choose the one I think is my best option at that moment in time.

I found, that if I was willing to think through the issue and come up with a few alternatives, I could empower myself in practically every situation I encountered. With one caveat: I had to be willing to take 100% responsibility for myself, my decisions, my successes, and my failures.

If I choose to blame others for the results I am getting in my life, If I place responsibility for my happiness on anyone else other than myself, I am choosing to be a victim with a victim mindset.

Most victims are unhappy because they fail to see that regardless of the situation, they have the power to choose something different. Different may be a different way of looking at a situation, letting go instead of holding on to something, some one, or a situation that is making them miserable, or the fear of moving into an unknown situation.

So how can you feel more empowered?

Below is a list of 10 questions you can ask yourself in a few given situations that can help.

10 Questions To Empower Yourself: 

  1. Do I need to be right or do I want to be happy?
  2. Do I need to insert myself into this situation or do I need to mind my own business (and this is none of my business)?
  3. Do I need to focus on what I must do to make things right or do I want to prove someone else wrong?
  4. Do I need to empower myself or do I want to give my power away (letting someone else’s actions or words determine how I think, feel, or act)?
  5. Do I want to waste my time being angry and resentful or do I need to forgive and move on (a friend once told me that holding on to resentment is like taking a poisonous pill and waiting for the other person to die)?
  6. Do I want to stress out and worry about the outcome or do I trust the process to unfold the way it is (confusing the facts and what it is versus what I want it to be)?
  7. Do I want to focus on the past/worry about the future or do I need to live in the present moment?
  8. Do I want to focus on the problem or focus on a solution?
  9. Do I need to create peace or do I want to create chaos (yes, some people are addicted to drama and chaos)?
  10. If this was my last day on earth, would I spend my time and energy on this particular situation, problem, or challenge in this exact same way or would I handle it differently?

The whole idea is to stop yourself and make a conscious decision of how you want to live in that moment.

Why? Because how you choose to live in each moment determines how you live each day ….

How you choose to live each day determines how you live each week … which determines how you live each month … which determines …. well I think you get the idea.

Creating choices and deciding how you want to respond, who you want to be, or what you want to do, will determine your level of success and overall happiness in your business and in your life.

You just have to remember that the power to em-power yourself lies within and begins when you start to create choices. The more choices you can think of … the more empowered you will feel!

Of course this list is incomplete, so feel free to comment with choices you have made that help you to empower yourself. Who knows … something you share may inspire someone else to do the same.

Now wouldn’t that be empowering?

Continue Reading

Posted by Joe Contrera in Accountability, Decision-Making, Empowerment, Joe Contrera, Leadership Speaker, Personal Growth.

The Missing Key to Leading Others

One of the biggest challenges facing a leader is the ability to step back and influence others to get results. The key is to get results without doing the work yourself or micromanaging your folks into becoming clones so they do the work the exact same way you would.

Why? Because we all bring our own ideas, experiences, beliefs, styles, needs, and personalities, to the table. The composite of all these different variables creates our unique way of doing things which allows us to feel that we are making a difference. When we are making a difference, we feel that what we do matters and therefore we matter. When we matter, we derive a sense of purpose and meaning from our work, which increases engagement, motivation, and our productivity.

So how can you lead others and influence them so you can get even higher levels of productivity … without creating clones and controlling everything they do?

Acceptance …

Yes that’s right … acceptance!

Here are 10 things you need to accept as a leader if you want to start leading and influencing others more effectively.

10 Things You Need To Accept When Leading Others:

  1. Accept that everyone is different … not wrong … just different.
  2. Accept that there are multiple ways of accomplishing a given task.
  3. Accept that most often, what you dislike in others, is typically just a dis-owned part of yourself that you don’t want to own (i.e. selfishness, arrogance, stubbornness, etc.). Use that to see yourself more clearly.
  4. Accept that most people want to do a good job, they just might be unaware of how their actions are impacting others. Help them to see!
  5. Accept that a small percentage of people are unconscious, unaware, and don’t want to wake up. The kindest thing you can do for them is to let them go and end the misery on both sides of the fence.
  6. Accept that being a leader means you change the things you can and accept the things you can’t. Remember, the only thing you can truly change is yourself and what you think. Ironically, changing ourselves is typically at the bottom of most people’s To Do List.
  7. Accept the fact that in order to lead you must continue to learn, grow, and develop, as a leader. If you don’t you may wake up one day and be irrelevant in your role. Author Joan Welsh says, “If you’re coasting, you’re either losing momentum, or you’re headed downhill.”
  8. No one ever said being a leader would be easy. No one ever said that being a leader meant you would make the right call 100% of the time. Accept when you make the wrong call, own it, do what it takes to make it right, and then move on. It’s called humility.
  9. Accept the fact that you might not be cut out to be a leader. This would mean swallowing a huge dose of humility and stepping back. That said, you can’t fake being a leader for long. Eventually, the truth always comes out and at that point it probably won’t be your call.
  10. Accept that you are not the center of the universe and the people in it are not here to serve you. You are here to serve them.

Acceptance is a big part of leading. In fact, acceptance is a big part of having a life filled with happiness. I’m not saying except the status quo and don’t attempt to make thing better. I am saying that there are things you can change and things you can’t. Focus on the things you can, accept the things you can’t, and be sure to know the difference.

In the end … life will be much better for everyone around you … including yourself!

And that’s all I have to say about that!

Continue Reading

Posted by Joe Contrera in Employee Engagement, Influence, Influencing Others, Joe Contrera, Leadership, Leadership Speaker, Results.

Aligning Your Purpose in Life …

Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose. Helen Keller

The purpose of our lives is to be happy. Dalai Lama

How many of us were told as a child that your purpose in life was to be happy?

How many of us were told that the purpose of your life was to get a good job that paid well so that you could have all the other wonderful things in life? Get married, have a family, raise your children, have a summer home, a boat, a nice car, etc.?

I don’t ever remember being told to find my purpose in life so I could be happy.

I learned by spoken word and unspoken actions that my self-worth, value, & purpose in life, were tied to what other people believed, what other people wanted, or what made other people happy.

It has taken a long time to get to this point where I am driven to define what truly makes me happy.

And while it may be easy to find joy and happiness in one’s work, it can sometimes be difficult to align our work purpose with our personal life or vice-versa.

It may be the opposite for you … you’re crystal clear about the personal side of your life, but the business/career side is unfulfilled or empty.

Either way, the requirement for aligning your purpose in life requires total and complete honesty with yourself. It’s a soul-searching of sorts that can fill up your chest or leave you gasping for air because you’re suffocating in one area or the other.

So is your business/career purpose in alignment with your personal purpose? Are they interwoven in some way that brings you incredible joy? Are they one in the same?

If so, that is incredible, embrace it and be grateful.

If not, maybe it would be a good thing to sit back and look at the gaps (or similarities) and think about how you can align them or align them even more … as easy or as difficult as it may seem! It may simply be a shift in perspective so that you are seeing the bigger picture, or it may require a complete upheaval of one side or the other.

If it is a complete upheaval, please know that it will be challenging. Why? Because in the beginning, you will have to let go of all the things that have been preventing you from blending these two worlds together. If it was easy you would have let go of them already.

That said, in order to let go, think beyond the short-term sacrifice and embrace the possibility of the feeling, that you may never have to work another day in your life. Imagine what it might feel like to be truly happy?

And what would that be worth to you?

Continue Reading

Posted by Joe Contrera in Authenticity, Goals, Let Go, Self Improvement, Success.

Closing the Happiness GAP!

At the beginning of each and every month I have the opportunity to work through a process with a group of folks that I spend Monday thru Friday with at 5:15 AM. It is my Accountability group and it is led by my dear friend and colleague, Shawna Schuh. She also leads this monthly call where we set up our goals for the month and then track them each day on a consistency calendar.

This  morning I had an epiphany …

I came to the realization that when I look at the overall goals for my life personally, relationally, and professionally, what I want more than anything is happiness. I want happiness within myself, with others, and in my work.

While I was writing it dawned on me that happiness sounded like something I was striving for or a destination I would arrive at … someday. Than I realized that happiness is simply the cumulative effect of choosing to be happy each and every day.

When you consistently choose to be happy, you ultimately discover happiness.

In other words, my ability to find happiness is based on my weekly, daily, and hourly choices to be happy or not. I have the power to be happy and if I am not happy there is no one else at fault and nothing else to blame. It’s on me!

I then looked at the areas or the components in my life and the situations that caused me to feel unhappy. Sometimes you  have to look at what you don’t want to get clarity on what you do. There were 3 areas I looked at and here they are:

  1. When I am ungrateful for all that I have and instead choose to focus all the things that I don’t!
  2. When I start thinking scarcity thoughts and focus on the fact that there isn’t enough and I have to fight to get my share. This scarcity mentality and can slowly creep in and infect my business, my relationships, and my worldview!
  3. When I am unproductive, waste time, and accomplish nothing of value. I may be checking boxes on my to do list but they have little or no significance.

Lately, I have been working on a new book entitled, The Art of Leading, Coaching, & Influencing Others. One of the concepts I share in regards to influencing others is that your job as a leader is to help your folks identify the gap between where they are and where they want to be. This gap can apply to all aspects of life whether it be specific to a project, their career, or a relationship.

You accomplish this by asking questions so they can see the gap and you understand what they are thinking or believing about their particular situation. What you think doesn’t matter if they don’t see it and identify with it. Once they establish the gap, you can help them decide what actions they might take so they can start closing that gap and achieving their goals. All of this is done through the art of asking great questions.

When I asked myself those same questions, and I identified the gap between what I wanted and where I was, I decided that I would take 3 actions in order to achieve my ultimate goal of being happy. I decided to adjust my thought process and start behaving differently in these 3 areas of my life:

  • ratitude – I would write each and every day what I am grateful for
  • bundance – I would focus on the fact that there is plenty of everything. We live in a land of abundance, all I have to do is look for the opportunities and do the work. Which leads me to number 3.
  • roductivity – simply put … DO THE WORK! Stop procrastinating, wasting time and start taking action, whether it be massive or minuscule, just move and do something.

This isn’t rocket-science, I think most great ideas are rather simple, and yet it was eye-opening.

When I am ungrateful, approach life from a scarcity mentality,  and am not productive, I AM NOT HAPPY! When I am grateful for all that I have, approach life from an abundance mentality, and I am productive, I AM HAPPY!

Period the end, game over, that’s a wrap!

Let me close with 3 questions:

  1. So where are the gaps in your life between where you are and where you want to be?
  2. What do you need to do to close that gap (what action you need to take or belief do you need to shift)?
  3. What are you willing to do or commit to doing to change that?

When you consistently choose to be happy … you won’t have to look for happiness … happiness will find you!

Continue Reading

Posted by Joe Contrera in Beliefs, Happiness, Joe Contrera, Leadership, Personal Growth, Results, Self Improvement, Success.

(RE)discovering Your Purpose as a Leader

Not too long ago, I had the opportunity to kick off a new group for our, Art of Leading, Coaching, & Influencing Others™ Program.

It is an advanced learning experience that reeducates leaders on the core principles of what it means to lead others, while consistently building their coaching & influencing skills. It happens over a 7-month time frame and utilizes four different learning environments.

During one of our first sessions, one of the leaders shared that she had lost her way as a leader. Meaning, she had forgotten her purpose and the reason she had become a leader in the first place. She woke up to the realization that she was acting more like a glorified, but bored and disengaged individual contributor instead of leader.

Going through life without a purpose can be self-defeating. It causes people to wander aimlessly from one job or relationship to the next, it can allow someone to wallow in a dead-end place for years because their life or their work has no meaning.

Losing your sense of purpose as a leader, can be even more devastating, because your lack of engagement can infect the people you lead, the very same people you are supposed to be leading, developing, and helping them get out’ve their own way so they can do their best work.

So How Does a Leader Lose Their Way?

Some leaders are never clear as to why they became a leader in the first place. They may have wanted the promotion, the status, the money, and the title so they accepted the position without fully understanding the responsibility it requires or possessing the skills to lead others. Some leaders get worn down after years of leading the charge, they get tired or bored and slowly wander off-course, it doesn’t happen immediately, it happens eventually. Some folks never ever wanted to be a leader and when you ask them why they did, they say … “I just sort’ve fell into it!”

In all 3 of those situations what typically unfolds is that the leader becomes so focused on themselves and their own needs that they forget that being a leader means you have to be other-centered. We have all worked for self-centered leaders and it’s typically a bad experience that produces poor results.

So What if You’re a Little Lost?

  • Step 1 – Ask yourself why you decided to be a leader in the first place?
  • Step 2 – If after completing #1 you realize that you fell into it or that you wanted the title and the paycheck but you really struggle with the people aspect of your job … QUIT! Seriously you will not be happy, effective, or successful and you will end up doing much more harm than good.
  • Step 3 – If on the other hand you realize that for some reason or another you have gotten out of alignment or lost your way, I highly suggest that you adapt the following definition of a leader – Leaders are people who influence others to do or to be their best. Write it down, put it where you see it consistently throughout the so you can remind yourself of what you’re supposed to be doing.
  • Step 4 – Then go to amazon and order this book StrengthsFinders 2.0  and take the assessment in the back of the book.
  • Step 5 – When you get your results for your top 5 Strengths, ask yourself on a scale of 1-10 (1 – low and 10 – high) “How well am I leading/working from each one of my strengths?
  • Step 6 – Pick your lowest score and ask yourself, “What would I need to do to make my score a +1, +2, +3?” Write it down.
  • Step 7 – Do  those 3 things for the next 30 days and watch what unfolds in your work and your life!
  • Step 8 – After 30 days share the book with a colleague or even better … one of the people whom you lead!

Some of the most influential leaders in history have transformed the world, moved mountains, and toppled monarchies. People followed them because they trusted them. They were crystal clear about their purpose and they wanted to make life better for those around them. They weren’t lost … they helped others find their way

You don’t need to have direct reports to influence others … and if you do … consider it a privilege and your purpose!

Continue Reading

Posted by Joe Contrera in Coaching Others, Executive Leadership Development, Executive leadership training, Influencing Others, Leadership, Leadership Skills Training, Leadership Speaker, Results.

The Art of Leading, Coaching, & Influencing Others™: Worldview – Friendly or Hostile

A brief excerpt from Joe’s new book, The Art of Leading, Coaching, & Influencing Others™, coming out later this year.

Albert Einstein once said, “The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.” In other words, you have to decide if this place you inhabit, is a safe place or a dangerous one.  A place where you approach each interaction with a self-protective mindset or a place where you can relax and trust the process.

Our experiences, along with our upbringings, play an important role in how we pass through our days on earth. When, where, how, and by whom you were raised, has an enormous impact on what we understand to be “normal.”

Our definitions of “normal” varies widely from person to person, family to family, and culture to culture. For example, folks raised during The Great Depression of the 1930’s see the world much differently then a child raised in the economic boom cycle of the 1990’s.

In our inter-connected, multi-cultural world, the culture in which we were raised significantly impacts how we lead. In organizations with locations scattered all over the world, it is quite typical that as part of their leadership development program, they transfer leaders between the different countries so they can broaden their perspectives and expose them to different cultures.

I once worked with a leader from South America who struggled with conflict because in his town growing up, conflict would literally cost you your life. So he learned not to confront others (including his people) on performance issues or anything that resembled a conflict. His cultural background manifested itself in his desire to make everyone happy and to not make waves. The results: his employee’s pushed back on him, disrespected his authority, and had no accountability or ownership for their work, all of which reflected on him as a leader.

When you take into consideration the constant barrage by a news media who peddles fear and sensationalizes the facts, add the social media factor and the ability to share violent and horrific videos live, it can be extremely difficult to not be over-run by a fear-based mind-set.

For the record, I understand that the world is not all sunshine, rainbows and unicorns. And yet, as a leader if you choose to see that for the most part, the world is a friendly place and people are good, more times than not, you will give others the benefit of the doubt. You will realize that not everyone is out to get you, make you look bad, or throw you under the bus … and you will be happier.

As a leader, when you trust others you delegate more and you micro-manage less. When the world is a friendly place you collaborate more with your people and your peers. Your ability to collaborate will allow you to get more things done than you ever could if you were isolated and hiding behind a fear-based shield. And when you get more things done, you increase your value to the organization and therefore your ability to be promoted.

In the end … you win.

If you believe the world is a friendly place, there will be times when things don’t go as planned and you may occasionally get burned. In those situations, you’re more likely to search for solutions and ways to make it better than to point finger, blame, and condemn, in order to protect yourself.

Each day you have the opportunity to choose between whether you live in a friendly or hostile universe.

Maybe old Albert had it right when he said … this truly is one of the most important decisions we make.



Continue Reading

Posted by Joe Contrera in Coaching, Coaching Others, Culture, Executive Leadership Development, Influencing Others, Joe Contrera, Leadership, Leadership Speaker, Leading Others, Productivity, Values.

Leadership Training: Transactional or Transformational

When you go to McDonald’s there is a pretty good chance that you’re not going with the intention of having an exquisite culinary experience.

In fact, going through the drive-thru is a four step process that is repeated tens of thousands of times a day in drive thru’s all across America:

  • Step 1 -Shout what you want into a speaker.
  • Step 2 – Listen to someone mumble back what you just said, plus a total, then tell – to pull up to the next window.
  • Step 3 – You hand them money
  • Step 4 – You receive your bag of food and drive away.

This is an exchange, money for something that resembles food.

Seriously, have you never heard these words from anyone after they’ve eaten McDonald’s, “There it was … that dried out puck of beef  … resting gently on a bun that had been overheated in the microwave so that one half of the bun was gooey and gummy, while the other half  was hard as a rock! It was at that moment … I knew I was in for a real treat!”

This is what I refer to as a transaction, I give you X and you give me Y … period the end!

Now, think about going to the most expensive restaurant in Chicago, Los Angeles, or NYC. It is a much different experience. An experience where they pay attention to every little detail, from the time you pull up and are greeted by the valet till the time you hear the car door close behind you as you drive away … and everything little detail in-between.

You’re willing to pay more because you know that every detail of your dining experience will be perfect.

Your experience will cause you to tell others about that restaurant for months and maybe even years. It was transform-ational.

Transformed means to be changed. They took what could’ve been a simple exchange of food for money and turned it into a lasting memory.

So what does this have to do with Leadership or Leadership Training?

I find that many companies approach training in a transactional way. It’s as if they’re going to thru a McDonald’s drive-thru, ordering the value meal and expecting Chateaubriand.

You don’t get Chateaubriand when you send your manager to an all-day seminar for $79.00. These training classes are designed for the trainer to sell books, Cd’s, and Dvd’s (Yes, the trainers get paid more to sell you products then they do from doing the training).

5 Things That Happen When You Approach Training in a Transactional Way:

  1. Attendees show up in training classes who don’t want to be there, so they are not engaged, and so they don’t change.
  2. People walk out’ve the training with ideas and absolutely no idea how to put these ideas into actions.
  3. People walk out’ve training classes with no accountability to change or an avenue to continue the learning and so it fades within days.
  4. Leaders of companies waste hundreds of millions of  dollars on training and get no visible signs of return-on-investment to show for it. They can’t measure the impact.
  5. Most training is generic and so attendees don’t get the personal attention or the specific skills they need and so the issues that were supposed to be resolved by the training continue.

Training becomes transformational when you start to look at your entire training process. From the time your new employee walks in your door on their first day until the time they leave the company.

Companies are transformed when you pay attention to your leaders. When you train, support, and develop your individual contributors as they make that giant leap towards leadership. And when you provide your Leaders with programs that teach them how to integrate their new knowledge into their daily work interactions and help them to build their skills.

If you are interested in learning more about how to transform your organization with a transformational leadership development program, click here  and ask for more information about The Art of Leading, Coaching, & Influencing Others ™ Leadership Development Program.

Continue Reading

Posted by Joe Contrera in Executive Leadership Development, Executive leadership training, Leadership, Leadership Skills Training, Leadership Speaker, Professional Growth.