top of page
  • Writer's pictureJim Mercer

SamTastic Weekly Tip: 5/15/23 - Work at How You Ask Questions.

This week’s tip: Work at how you ask questions.

Asking better questions will make you a far better leader. Hal Gregerson, Wall Street Journal, suggests:

  1. Understand what kinds of questions spark creativity. A leader who wants to unleash the creativity in others reframes the problem and invites exploration and new ideas. “What are you wrestling with and how can I help?”

  2. Make yourself generate new questions. Instead of commenting on something you observe, ask a question. Be intensely curious.

  3. Respond with the power of the pause. Wait, think and ask what the other person thinks. Respond with a question, rather than a statement. When a person asks you what they think they almost always have their own idea. Ask what it is before sharing your own. This builds trust and shows interest. It demonstrates that you value what others think.

  4. Brainstorm questions. When you are stuck ask your team to brainstorm ideas and questions. This simple strategy often results in great ideas and even better questions.

  5. Reward your Questioners. Your job isn’t to have the answer, it is to build the capacity of the people with whom you work. Make clear you value the questions people raise—especially when they don’t match your own thinking. Your response to different ideas will show your team what you value. Do you really value collaborative work? Then you must be willing to accept new ideas and show curiosity—never dismissal.

Instead of saying what you think, ask:

  • What do you think?

  • What worked?

  • What didn’t work?

  • What would you like to modify next time?

  • Who else would you like to talk with about other things to try?

  • What else have you tried?

  • What would you like to try next?

Your actions, including the questions you ask, are what people remember. Being a leader, rather than a manager, requires planning and forethought. It is why the SAM process, the SAM Daily Meeting, and TimeTrack data, are so powerful together.

A good SAM asks the leader if the walkthrough, or another of the four kinds of seeing instruction, was completed.

The SAM is very good if the next question is about follow-up...even better if the question is:

  1. “What did you see in the classroom that impressed you?

  2. “What did the teacher do that shows improvement?”

  3. “Did you see a student who impressed you?

  4. “What ‘good learning behavior’ did you notice?”

  5. “What did you see that tells you what you should do at the next staff meeting? Grade level or department meeting? PLC?”

When a school community sees the person with the title “principal” ask questions that show genuine interest, the principal becomes the leader...not just the manager.

All five keynotes and five selected breakout sessions from the 16th Annual, 2023, National SAM Conference are now available in HD video:

8 views0 comments


bottom of page