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

Addressing Conflict

We asked people on our facebook page what topic they would like to us to do a blog or talk on. We’re going to be answering another one today and look forward to doing more as we go forward.

We really appreciate being in conversation versus having the blogs be a unilateral conversation, so if you have a question you’d like to ask Kyle or a topic you’d like to see him do a blog or talk on, please send us an email or a message on Facebook.

The question we are going to answer today is: “How do you create a happy workplace when employees are in conflict”?

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

The most challenging and, simultaneously, the most important thing is to actually address the conflict. In every conflict, there is a huge opportunity. And, this is where Inquiry Method comes in.

We often want to get into a mode of just telling people what to do or having people work it out, but the conflict is really an opportunity to bring something to the surface. This is true with every relationship, not just relationships at work.

The very best thing is to sit down with whoever is in conflict and start doing inquiry (I do this during a couple’s renewal or when I work with a team in an office).

Start with having each one of them talk to you. Ask them about the situation and have the desire to really understand it. Stay out of being a boss or pushing people around, and instead, just focus on really understanding. Try to really understand one person, while the other person listens. Then switch over to the other person and really try to understand them, while the other person listens.

If we keep in the process of understanding, we find we all want the same thing. Ultimately, we are all yearning for the same thing. Everybody wants to have a great business. Everybody wants to have fun at work. Everybody wants to get along. So, if we can talk to people and really understand them, especially in front of the person they are having the conflict with, it’s amazing how quickly people will come together.

In addition, any conflict is probably a reflection of something that is not functioning correctly in your business. So, it’s also really good information to get as the leader because the conflict may be about things you need to fix or repair in the business.

Let’s use these conflicts as opportunities.

I love this question. Thanks for asking it.

Love,
Kyle


If you are interested in finding out more about bringing Kyle in to help resolve conflict, email us at info@inquirymethod.com

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.

A Special Mountain Experience

There is an upcoming Mountain Experience in September, and for all of you that have had an interest in coming to the Mountain Experience, I truly recommend that you try to make it now. It is going to be a really special one, and it very may well be (at least for the time being) the last iteration of the Mountain Experience. Now I am sure that at some point there will be something similar that comes along on some level, but there is going to be a radical shift in Inquiry Method around how we deliver our teachings. And we have got some very exciting things up ahead.

But before that happens, I wanted to personally invite all of you to attend our last Mountain Experience. I hear people all the time that say, “You know, I’ve been thinking about coming to the Mountain Experience for 15 years or so,” or, “I really want this person I know to go the Mountain Experience.” So, if you have any of these feelings or thoughts this would be a great time to act on them, because pretty soon there will be entirely new experiences coming up.

I am very excited about what is on the horizon, and we are all very happy about it and I am sure you will all really enjoy what’s to come. However, there is also a sense of nostalgia and beauty surrounding the Mountain Experience and what has been. This last one is going to be really great, and there is going to be a lot of power and transformation taking place. So, I invite you personally to attend, and I invite you to let those people know who have always wanted to go to the Mountain Experience that the time is now! I hope to see you all there!

More details to come- keep your eye out for blogs and email updates from Inquiry Method!

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

 

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,

Kyle

Confidence

There is an idea in our culture that we are supposed to be confident. We have put a high value in knowing, we like the security of knowing. The model for authority is the one who knows. Even in the classroom this is showcased; the child that has the most correct answers gets the most praise.

An inquiry approach to life is the exact opposite; it is the willingness to not know. When I step into a situation of not knowing, I engage like a scientist and an artist. I collect all the data and information which makes me confident and engage with truth, “what is”. Because I’m interested, I’m engaged.

Once I’ve collected all the data, and once we can agree on the data it’s typically quite easy to move forward and agree. You will find that true confidence comes from using inquiry and experiencing life directly and responding to what is true with truth. The first step to confidence is knowing myself, knowing myself is not fixed, it is of the now, we must be willing to inquire into truth and into myself right now and begin there.

Thanks to Kelly Keppler for suggesting this topic.

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