Boss versus Mentor

I was speaking to one of my business clients the other day (CEO of a company of about 70 people) regarding what qualities to hire for in an employee, and we came up with “the hunger to learn and grow.”

In Inquiry Leadership, we see ourselves not so much as a boss but a mentor, someone who wants to share his or her skills and knowledge. Personally, as a mentor and teacher, there is nothing I value more than someone who is hungry to learn and grow. It’s exciting to mentor that kind of person.

As a boss you just want someone to follow instructions, do what they are told.

As a mentor, you want more. You want someone who will bug you to learn more, who will come to you with questions, who will always try to perfect and refine their ability and results.

An employee who is hungry will help you grow as a leader.

As a boss you are using top-down energy; you have to keep asserting and directing.

As a mentor, you are being pushed along by the eagerness of your employees. You are sharing your skills, and they are valued, received, and put into action.

If you are getting ready to hire in your organization, find someone who is hungry and eager to learn. Test for it, ask questions to discover it, and select for it. There is no more valuable asset you can have in your business. Someday, they will have the potential to replace you so you can take yourself to the next level: they may allow you to retire and/or buy you out.

If you are not hiring right now, you should be. Always be looking for more able, eager, hungry people. They are the gold that will make for a great and thriving business.


Learn more about Inquiry Management and Leadership here

Pushing Problems Up

As most of you know, I do business coaching as well as personal coaching. I want to shift to talking about business coaching today. This blog is based on a session I recently did with a corporate client. The company does construction work and I visited a satellite office to meet with their staff and introduce them to Inquiry Management and Leadership concepts. I did an overview before meeting with everyone individually, and I want to share a section I led about one of the principles we covered in the Inquiry Management section.

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, committed, engaged, members of the organization, who see their role as growing and inspiring people

A key principle of Inquiry Management is what I call “pushing problems up.”

You can listen to the recorded version here, or scroll down to read the blog

Everyone argues with me about this at first. People say “That’s not the way it works. You don’t push problems up; you bring answers to your boss. You come with solutions. You think about it and then you handle it on your own.” But, it works.

When I first started working with this client, the CEO said: Every job has these problems that get buried in them. And, then they come out at the end and they cost us a quarter million dollars. We go from profitable to loss or break even. I just hate it when those things come up.

We’ve been working together for a while now, and we’ve made huge strides on this by building a culture of Inquiry Management that includes the principle of pushing problems up.

Because, IF you can push your problems up, you can get coaching on how to resolve it, you can solve the problem before it becomes a big problem, and the problem can be pushed up to the level at which it can be resolved.

For instance, let’s say I’m working on a building estimate. There is an engineer who doesn’t report to me but who I’m parallel to who I need information from in order to be able to do the estimate. I’m having trouble getting the data out of them. I keep asking them – “Can you get me the data?” I even use inquiry – “When could you get me the data?” And, they still aren’t doing it. They don’t answer to me so I’m powerless in the situation. And, if I keep trying to deal with it on my own, I may end up way behind, and then someone will be upset and frustrated with me.

But, if I go one step up to whoever I report to and say “I’m really having trouble finishing this estimate because I’m not getting what I need from engineering.” My boss may ask if I’ve tried this or that, but when I’ve shown I’ve gone thru the options, they’ll realize this is out of my hands and that they need to do something about it. And, if the engineer doesn’t report to them, they’ll have to have to raise it one more level up and talk to whoever they need to talk to so they can understand that it’s a priority to get you this information.

So, in this process, it gets pushed up to the level where it can be addressed. It might go all the way up; it might go all the way up to the President, or it might go all the way up to the CEO. Because, the problem may be highlighting that we need to hire more engineers, or we need another company to work with, or we need a budget change, or we need to delay the bid on this job.

The problems need to go up to the level where they happen, where they can be solved. And, if the problem goes all the way up then the solution doesn’t go just to you, the solution also gets distributed out to the whole organization.

So, we don’t want to be hesitant about pushing our problems up.

The difference is that if I’m struggling on a job and I’m getting farther and farther behind while I’m trying to handle it myself and then eventually it comes out that it’s a mess. That would be terrible and on me. But, if at the beginning, I just keep reporting up what is happening on the job and what I’m having trouble with, I can solve things before they’re bigger problems.

It also helps takes the pressure off: Let’s say I’m having trouble with the subcontractors and I report it to my boss, and my boss says they don’t know how to handle it either. Now, I’ve transferred the accountability from me to my boss. Because, if my boss can’t tell me how to handle it or fix it, it’s their problem. If they can tell me how to fix it, or can help me figure out how to fix it, it’s my problem. But as long as I can’t fix it (and this is the beauty of being in an organization with hierarchy) I can keep pushing my problems up until they teach me, show me how to solve it, or change the system itself.

Even with our personal struggles, we want to push problems up. It helps you build your skills and helps to get your mentor more invested in you.

For instance, if I report to you and you’re my mentor, and I say I’m having a hard time getting organized. You may have a solution for me to use to improve. So, if I push the problem up to you, it’s not that I’m bad. I am just showing you my weakness I want to fix. And, you’re my mentor, you’ve seen my weaknesses and you want to help me get better. And, as I bring you my problem, you become more invested in me. The more you help me, the more invested you become in me. You’ve put a lot in me, so you want to see me advance and you want to support me. That is part of management. We really have to use the people we report to as mentors and ask them to help us. We have to be willing to be vulnerable enough to share what we are really struggling with.


Click here for my eCourse where you will be taught the fundamentals of Inquiry Management and Inquiry Leadership, or email us at info@inquirymethod.com if you are interested in learning more about business coaching.

Fundamentals of Inquiry Method™, and Inquiry Management™

At its root, Inquiry Method™, and Inquiry Management™ by extension, are the capacity to come to any conversation, challenge, or interaction with open curiosity and inquisitiveness rather than with answers, assumptions, and directives. In our culture, we are taught to have all the answers and that our intelligence is based on knowledge. For most of our education, we are given answers and required to memorize and repeat them for tests and exams. Most of us have continued in this pattern in our professional and personal lives. The problem with having the answers is that everyone stops growing and learning.

This is particularly true in relationships both personal and professional. We make assumptions and project ourselves into other people. We judge, gossip, assert, tell, and correct, instead of asking and inquiring. The process of telling others what to do shuts down communication and leads our relationships into stuck and frustrating situations.

If you want to create dynamic, alive, and vital relationships where accountability, productivity, and creativity are authentically embraced, then you have to be wiling to not know, willing to put your ego aside and let curiosity lead the way.

Inquiry Method provides processes, practices and inquiry lenses that break through the obstacles to growth and mastery level living. It provides the bold shift in perspective and the set of tools that are needed to master our own level of participation so that we can become inspirational leaders in every aspect of our lives.

Learn more through our Inquiry Management eCourse by Kyle Mercer from Inquiry Method™.  Kyle Mercer’s interactive eCourse includes video lectures featuring Kyle Mercer, 9 interactive comprehensive units, and an individual, private workbook designed to guide you towards creating an environment of growth and accountability in your organization.

Please click HERE to learn more.

Levels of Participation

Levels of Participation is one of the principles 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.

Click here to learn more

 

Death Bed Exercise

Whether it is within your business, relationship, family, or yourself, a wonderful exercise to discover your values (not just your immediate gratification, but your true values) is to imagine that you are lying on your deathbed and you have one hour left to live. In this visualization, imagine that you are lying there and with this sense of love and peace in your heart. When you reflect on your life in this scenario, whether in terms of business, family, a relationship, or yourself, what would have to be true in that area of your life for your heart to be filled with love and satisfaction?

Once you determine what would make you feel totally satisfied with that aspect of your life, write these details down carefully and clearly. For example, imagine your business: what kind of legacy would you have had to leave in this business to leave your heart filled with love and satisfaction as you lie dying? Imagine the same for your relationship with your spouse, your child, a friend, or even yourself: what would have to be true about this relationship for you to be totally satisfied and fulfilled on your deathbed?

It is a wonderful way to make this clear. Then use last week’s exercise on Planning, and use vision, strategy and tactics to create the intention to make this true. By doing this exercise, you may find that this feeling of fulfillment and contentment may occur way before your deathbed. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to go to sleep at night with that feeling of fulfillment and satisfaction that you manifested something that was meaningful to you?

Go ahead, give it a try- what do you have to lose?

Love,

Kyle

Planning: Executing your Vision, Strategy and Tactics

In all aspects of our lives, planning is an integral part. Planning exercises are important in group settings, such as a couple, family, or for a business, and are equally crucial, individually. The objective of this blog is to help you recognize the power and meaning that can be created through the intention of planning.

The first element of planning is creating your vision. To create your vision, project a period into the future; for example, imagine yourself in one, five, or ten years. What do you want your future to look like? One beautiful application of this step is as a couple. Let’s say you are fifty, jointly creating a vision of what life will be in twenty years, when you are seventy. It is such a powerful process because as you create this beautiful vision together, you both become bonded and equally participating towards fulfilling this joint vision, which in turn creates beauty in the relationship. This visioning process can also be conducted in the context of a business. Or, you can create your own personal vision to motivate and inspire yourself to shape your dreams.

In support of vision, the next level of consideration is strategy. Strategy is the creation of the larger picture- specifically, what are some of the broad topics we would need to accomplish our vision? In the example of planning for when we turn seventy, we may intend to retire to Costa Rica and live in a beach house. In order to achieve this goal, we must make sure that our finances are in a certain shape, define how we would like to be with respect to our health, and describe what we need to do in our relationship to develop wonderful communication and intimacy. Just as we often do in a business or individually, we would define strategic objectives and goals to help us achieve our future vision.

The third level is tactics. Tactics are the day-to-day things that I need to start developing and acting on to fulfill my strategy. For example, planning a meeting to develop a financial plan with my financial advisor, creating a benchmark for required salary, scheduling couples counseling to develop our communication, or learning Spanish. Whatever we need to do to manifest our desired outcome.

In summary, there are three levels:

Vision: where we are, or I am, going.

Strategy: what major things have to get accomplished to get the results.

Tactics: what day-to-day activities are needed to fulfill our strategy.

Create a document with your vision, strategy and tactics and lay out a plan for yourself.

The next blog will talk about how to go deeper with creating that vision, and in view of creating your legacy.

Talk to you next week.

Love,

Kyle

Freedom

In preparing for The Freedom Experience coming up in three weeks, November 30th – December 3rd, I have realized the implications of my new learning and understanding, and have seen how it will profoundly affect this experience.

Each one of the experiences, the Mountain Experience and the Freedom Experience, are designed to work with a different level of consciousness. At the Mountain Experience, we learn to recognize that we are not the emotional pain that we carry. We grow and move to the next level when we can separate ourselves from it and ultimately heal it. The Freedom Experience is the step after this, and has different goals.

At the Freedom Experience, we learn to disentangle from self-judgements and identities that we may have associated with ourselves. As we know, “nothing can be solved at the Level of Consciousness that created it.” First, to resolve our conflict we must go to a higher level. When we recognize that we have judgement on some aspect of ourselves, we do not eliminate the judgement, but we notice it. In noticing the judgement that we have on ourselves, an amazing thing happens to us: we go to the next level of consciousness. We no longer believe the judgement is us. By doing that, we can notice the behavior, the part of us that is showing up that may be inappropriate, that may or may not be serving.

When we get to the level of consciousness where our judgement ends, we resolve an inner conflict that steals our energy and keeps us from being fully ourselves. As we begin to recognize and ease our judgments in the Freedom Experience, we will have more agency in the choices we make.

We hope that you will join us on this journey.

Love,

Kyle

Life at Altitude: A Podcast by Kyle Mercer

Hello everybody!

I’ve got some exciting news to share with you! As much as I’ve enjoyed writing blogs, I’ve always wanted to record podcasts to share my work, insights and inspirations. I am pleased to announce that we have made lots of progress in making this dream a reality in the past few weeks…

We have purchased top-notch recording equipment, hired Krishan Guzzo as our producer, and have begun to record some of our first podcasts. The podcast is called Life at Altitude, and our goal is to share Inquiry Method™ with you so that you can experience and maintain a higher level of consciousness. We plan on doing this through monologues, clips from the Mountain and Freedom Experiences, interviews and more. Personally speaking, this release is so timely, as these days it feels like I can so clearly and concisely articulate what my work and the experiences are all about.

We need your help to make this a success! I would love to hear your thoughts on what is most meaningful to you, what you like to hear about and your guidance on the format of the show. I also intend to record some sessions where I answer questions that you submit, so please let me know any questions you may have to inspire these conversations.

There is no need to worry- the blogs and my quotes will remain as well, as they have been so warmly welcomed by you all! I thank you for your continued support and feedback; you truly are the source of my inspiration! These podcasts will serve as another exciting way for me to connect with you on another dimension where you will be able to feel my intention on a deeper level.

Life at Altitude can be found on our website, https://inquirymethod.com/podcasts/. We are also on iTunes Podcasts and Google Play under ‘Life at Altitude’.

Looking forward to sharing with you and receiving your feedback!

Love,

Kyle

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.