Becoming a Professional Question Asker

Sep 28, 2018

Let me ask you a question … how well do you know your team (the staff and/or volunteers you lead)?

Here’s a quick test:

1. Do they have any kids? If so, what are their names? 

2. What are they most proud of?

3. Do they believe they are in their sweet spot?

4. Who is their best friend?

So, how do you think you scored?

It’s important to understand that your team wants you to know them. As leaders, we need to allow our team’s stories to influence the way that we lead them.

All throughout the gospels, Jesus uses a person’s story to break down walls and connect with them.

A great example of this is his interaction with the woman at the well in John 4. Their conversation starts pretty normal, even a bit contentious if you remember – “How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan, for a drink?” But their interaction takes an interesting turn towards life changing as he begins to call out her story.

It’s after this interaction that she goes (leaving her jar) and tells everyone to “come see a man who told me everything I ever did.”

We should never underestimate the power of a person’s story.

At Slingshot Group, this is why we developed the Story Mining competency as a part of our IMPROVleadership coaching strategy. Story Mining is thoughtfully uncovering a person’s story and allowing it to shape the way you lead. Another way to think of it is that Story Mining is the act of drawing a person’s story out of them. It’s about getting below the “layers” of who they are. This is active, not passive.

We all know that if we are around someone long enough we will learn much of their story. But in the relationships that we have with our teams, we rarely have the luxury of time. At best, we get small bursts of time with our team in one-on-one meetings or hallway conversations. Unless we decide to be more intentional with that time, it will never be enough to get below the surface.

Stan Endicott, the founder of Slingshot Group, has always said that the best coaches are professional question askers. I’d even take that a bit further — the best leaders are professional question askers.

That word – professional – is so important. It’s the difference between being naturally good at something, and developing it into a skill that you can draw on at any moment. It’s up to you as the leader to draw the best out of your team, and the most effective way to do that is by mining out their story through questions.

Our team at Slingshot Group strives to become connoisseurs of questions. We compile lists of questions to keep in our back pocket at all times. Here are some of our favorites to help start yours:

1. When you were a child, for what did you receive applause?

2. What was the most important year of your education, from first grade through high school graduation? Why?

3. Does your spouse think you are in the “sweet-spot” of your career?

4. Who is your best friend? What does that friendship bring to your life?

5. What’s happening in this ministry that is only happening because you’re here?

Let’s become professional question askers today!

On October 11th, join David A. Miller and Church Executive for a free webinar on Creating an Environment for Your Team to Love Their Work.

David. A Miller

Lead Coaching Associate, Slingshot Group

Over the past thirteen years, David A. Miller has had the privilege of serving as a pastor, mentor, speaker and teacher. His diverse experiences on both the east and west coasts—in thriving, multi-site churches as well as parachurch ministries—collectively contribute to an arsenal of skills that he has brought to Slingshot Group. With a strategic mind and intuitive spirit, David leads both the Slingshot Group Coaching Division as well as our Student Ministry Search Division, where he walks with church leadership through challenges and opportunities that shouldn’t be navigated alone.

Who’s next?

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