Levels of Participation

Levels of Participation is one of the principals that I discovered in my work developing Inquiry Method. In the years I have been teaching it, it has become a mainstay of what I call Inquiry Management. The Levels of Participation are a framework for understanding how people work together; they explain how people behave in relationships, the context that they participate in, and the leadership they receive. By understanding this framework we can have an impact on our own success and growth, we can influence the success and growth of our organization and we can learn to lead and be led to greater success, and ultimately satisfaction, engagement and happiness in our work.

Inquiry Method™ is the foundation on which I have built all that I have learned and discovered. I have found that it is also something that can be learned by others to have a profound impact on their ability to lead and mentor others. At the root Inquiry Method™ is simply the capacity to come to any conversation or inner challenge with openness, curiosity, and questions rather than answers. Though this may seem simple and easy, I have found that it is much more difficult that one might think. Particularly in business, but also elsewhere, we are taught to have the answers. In fact for most of our education we were given answers and required to memorize them and repeat them for tests and exams. Most of us have continued in this pattern in our professional and personal lives.

The problem is that in having the answers we stop learning and growing.

Click here for my eCourse where you will be taught the fundamentals of Levels of Participation, Inquiry Management and Inquiry Leadership.

Ego’s Trap

Attachment to the ego is the primary obstacle to our ability to lead effectively. When we assert our truth, opinions and assumptions – we are directive in a way that limits growth. Inquiry Method™ is a philosophy and a practice that cultivates the ability to set ego aside and to inquire into, ask questions, and employ natural curiosity in order to connect with deeper truths and insight. Using and growing natural curiosity about life and people will enable you to become an inspirational leader and will elevate how you live your life, how you do business, how you relate to others, and how you perceive yourself.

Great leaders are not so much attached to themselves and their success as to great ideas and inspiration. Great leaders inspire others toward a cause, not through devotion to the individual.

It is my intention that Inquiry Method revolutionize how we live our lives, how we do business, how we relate to each other, and how we see ourselves. In fact it has already begun.

Our Inquiry Management eCourse will lead you through the levels of participation, these levels parallel levels of personal development that are available to you and will be necessary for you to be able to fulfill the promise of this course. Traditionally we think of growing as accumulating things, in fact these levels actually become more available to you as you let go of things. The capacity to let go is fundamental to progression in Inquiry Method, each time we let go of something we open to new capacity and depth, we let more in.

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Stagnant Energy, Case Study

Last week I introduced the concept of stagnant energy and how Inquiry Method can identify and release these blockages and get the energy moving again.  

The same is true not only for individuals, but also when I work with a business.  When we recognize that there is a blockage based on the markers (stress, worry, frustration, etc.), we can work to remove the obstacle. 

Recently, Jim, CEO of a manufacturing firm, wanted to understand why projects were getting delayed. No one on his management team was able to pinpoint the exact reason why.  

Through Inquiry Method, Jim realized that he had an accountability problem, and we thus scheduled a two-day renewal to work with his leadership team. By applying Inquiry Method Management tools and processeswe discovered that no one on the team viewed accountability in a healthy light. We set about redefining the term so that everyone could be aligned in a new view that was free from past associations with blame. This new view of “accountability” involved ownership (noticing things that are and are not working), creativity (applying expertise to find solutions to problems), and transparency (creating bonds of trust). 

In just this small step at the beginning of our session,there was already a noticeable surge of productivity, energy, and engagement from the team. As Inquiry Management tools and processes become familiar and utilized in the DNA of your company, you will notice the upsurge of energy and productivity followed by a smooth, efficient, and new impassioned synergy within your teams.

As a leader or manager using Inquiry Management and Inquiry Leadership, your primary job is to identify the stagnant energy in your organization and through inquiry and mentorship help to get the energy moving again.  Once mastered, this skill will prove extremely powerful to your company.

When you recognize the markers in yourself (stress, anxiety, frustration, etc.), it is a clear signal that you have some work to do. The stagnant energy will inevitably take its toll on you… both on your physical and mental health. In your company, stagnant energy will negatively effect profitability, morale, employee retention, customer satisfaction, and your ability to thrive.  The longer stagnant energy stays in your system or your company, the more damage it does.  Don’t run away from the pain; face it. Do your work, get some help, use Inquiry Method, and get the energy moving again. The breakthrough is exciting and liberating.  Being in balance and flow is joyful and nurturing.

Peace, love, and kindness,


Inquiry Management in Business

Accountability is the single most valuable asset you can have in your business.  You can see this just by looking at the difference in performance, responsibility and commitment of an owner versus an employee.  When there is ownership, there is huge accountability. With ownership, you have to be responsible, responsive and aware because your well-being, future, and fortunes are riding on the success of the business.

The most common business complaint I hear is that employees are not accountable; they don’t have the same commitment as an owner.  It is true and will always be true.  Even when we create profit sharing plans, offer bonuses, etc. we don’t get the same kind of accountability in employees as we do with owners. This will always be true for a couple of reasons.

The primary reason is that people who want to work for others are different from people who want to create and run businesses.  Employees want more security and less accountability; entrepreneurs and business owners want freedom, they want to be accountable to only themselves and the market, they believe in their own capacity, they have something unique to express and want to do that.

It takes skill and leadership to guide someone who wants security and less responsibility toward a sense of accountability.  This leadership skill is what Inquiry Management is designed to do, to create accountability and engagement.  As leaders, we need to be able to mentor and teach our employees to trust and invest in themselves, to actively engage in their own success within the company.  This is what great leaders do, they teach and inspire people to not only do their best but to believe in themselves and their contribution.

The greatest key to a successful business is having a team that can not only work well together but also that can respond and believe in themselves like they are entrepreneurs.

As leaders, to be able to do this we must be able to recognize where each person’s level of development is and then to give them what they need to advance; the template I have created for this knowledge is what I call the Levels of Participation.

The other skill we need to be able to lead people in this way is the skill of mentoring, which I call Inquiry Management; it is both a methodology for mentoring and a framework for managing businesses.

The more accountability a leader can create the more, they become redundant because they have created a team that thinks for themselves and acts in alignment with the leaders vision.

Inquiry Management & Leadership

Inquiry Method

  1. The practice of setting myself aside and through questions seeing the world through the eyes of another.
  2. A tool for healing, growth, and learning that is facilitated by a coach or mentor relationship.
  3. A philosophical framework for optimizing life arrived at through the practice of Inquiry Method.
  4. A method for relating with others that creates understanding, resolution, alignment of goals and objectives, and connection.

Inquiry Management

  1. A technique and practices for the operation of an organization and hierarchical relationships that amplify the growth and success of the individual toward shared goals and objectives.
  2. A way of organizing relationships within an organization around mentoring relationships rather than the traditional authoritarian boss/employee model.
  3. A commitment to creating accountability that requires leaders to be the most open, open, committed, engaged, members of the organization, who see their role as growing and inspiring people.

Inquiry Leadership

  1. The view that as a leader it is my duty to grow and optimize myself to be the best leader I can become. That I look first to myself for the source of problems.
  2. The practice of using Inquiry Method on myself to explore my own growth and development.
  3. The commitment to inspiring others to perform rather than requiring them to perform.
  4. The view that accountability starts and begins with the leader, no victimhood, only constant creation, and re-creation.


Why, What, How

Our lives can be better; in fact, they can be great. This is true individually and collectively.

There are two factors to having great lives, our inner landscape and the context in which we live.

The inner landscape can be developed through the practice of Inquiry Method; looking into our beliefs, our emotional framework, and our unmet needs, and letting go of that which does not serve us.

The context in which we live can be remodeled and upgraded to serve and inform the development and flourishing of this inner landscape.

One of the primary obstacles to developing this inner landscape is the context of work, how we earn our living but even more importantly how we express our best selves.

This calls for a revolution in the way in which we view and do work. Our workplaces should be a place/activity that we look forward to, as the venue for expressing our best selves and where we interact and create with others to achieve something that is truly meaningful.

This is possible.

Inquiry Management is a practice that will revolutionize our context for working. By inverting the system, pushing our problems/challenges up, committing to the success of everyone, learning to be mentors, and becoming able to be mentored we return the workplace to an environment that meets, supports and amplifies the experience of being human.

Teaching, Coaching, Mentoring

I often use these three terms in regards to what I do. It is important to understand the differences between them as you work to master Inquiry Method and Inquiry Management.

Teaching is telling others about a subject or information and encouraging them to explore and learn the information. I often teach when I want to help people see things that they have not been aware of or explore into subjects and material that is new, revolutionary or radical. We cannot be coached into areas we have not explored, teachers are necessary to help us into new territory. Teaching is a wonderful and useful skill that can be mastered and irreplaceable in certain circumstances.

Coaching is the capacity to set yourself aside and use inquiry to help people come to their own understanding of themselves or a situation. I consider coaching a higher principal than teaching because it requires a person to set aside their ego in order to be present to help and understand another person. True coaching requires a person to develop themselves to an altitude where they do not need to be the center of attention, but can offer attention to another person to stimulate their growth, depth, healing, and inspiration. Interestingly, a person’s ability to coach is exactly equal to their capacity to be coached.

Mentoring is the highest state of interacting with another person. This is the condition where we have achieved a high level of mastery in some area, we have nothing left to prove, we wish to share our wisdom and capacity, but we don’t need to. Mentoring combines teaching and coaching with something more: deep insight into others, deep compassion, and self-acceptance. Mentors transmit their ability on many levels: verbally, with how they are being, and in a more subtle way that is hard to define. The people who get the most out of mentors are not only highly capable learners, but they are also able to set their egos aside. There is a quality of devotion to one’s mentor that allows a special kind of transmission to occur. This is most apparent in people who have already achieved some ability in coaching and coach-ability.

Take some time to understand these different capacities in depth. At what level are you performing in different areas in your life? At work? With your spouse? With your children? Friends?

To what level do you aspire? How would you have to grow to master the level that interests you?

Sure, But…

Sure, Inquiry Method is great for healing trauma, past and present. But, the more profound work of Inquiry Method is discovering and releasing the many hidden, unseen, insidious limitations that keep us from fully experiencing and embracing life.

The Next Wave

One of the most powerful agents of change on the planet is our economic system.  On some level we have all surrendered to the culture of how we do business and why we do business.  It is time to see it differently, to fundamentally change the role of work in our lives and our roles in work.  This change will profoundly alter what we get out of work and what we give to it.  It will change what we create and how we create it.  Businesses that do this will not only survive and prosper but they will become magnets for talent and ultimately contributions to the world around them.

Profit should be the outcome not the goal.  Profit that ignores the process and the people is less valuable than profit that accompanies doing something well, something that benefits people, in a way that serves those who are doing it and those who are consuming it.  For those of us who embrace the change, not only will we be growing our happiness and well being but the product and process of what we do will be exceptional.  The success of this new paradigm not only leads to more productivity and profit but to a revolution in peoples lives that will create the satisfaction and contentment we are all searching for.

Radical Inversion

How would it change your perception of things if you inverted your organizational chart?

In the traditional view we can interpret that the whole chart is there to support the success of the person at the top. When you stop to think about it, that is ridiculous, how much can one person accomplish?

In your mind, or even better, print out your org chart, and turn it upside down. What if the whole organization was focused on the success of the people and processes at the old bottom, and now at the top of the chart?

The new top of the chart is where most of the work gets done, if we can help to make these people successful in their jobs and lives the whole organization wins. Then as people get better and better at their jobs they gradually fall through the org chart, and become supporters, encouragers, and problem solvers.

Picture yourself as the supporter of everyone who is, no longer below you, but above you in the organization. How would this inversion change your perception and performance of your work? How would it change the perception of everyone in the organization?

Support, encourage, solve problems, this is what great leaders do. To do this you must do your own work on yourself. You have to let go of your importance, your egoically driven drive, your need for recognition and become someone who is dedicated to the individual success of everyone (now above you) in the organization.

I do not mean to care take of, rescue, over give, or to pander to your direct reports, what I mean is to fill those positions with people who want to be successful in their lives and provide for them the resources and framework so that they can be successful. Let success and abundance fall down through the system to you.