A few weeks back a friend was mixing for a conference in the Nashville area, so I went to meet him and hang for a bit. It was a pretty powerful night to be honest. I’ve been to countless conferences and know (maybe too well) what to expect when I arrive. However this conference was something different. There was a choir and this wasn’t your grandmother’s worship conference. In fact its a gathering of some very innovative and forward thinking leaders.
The choir wasn’t the only thing that shocked me, as I’ve seen choirs at conferences before. And it wasn’t the fact that there wasn’t a worship leader there in front of them, as new as that was for me. The thing that shocked me was the choir itself! Particularly the sound is what I noticed that night. This incredible choir was the Lee University Singers and I had never heard such a well mixed choir in all my life.
Don’t get me wrong, I knew my friend would build a great mix, I just didn’t expect it to be this good. It was brilliant but not too sharp, it was crisp without being harsh and yet it was full without sounding tracked or fake. Because it wasn’t.
At the end of the worship service, one of the attendees came over and said, “Hey, they sounded great! I’m curious what microphones were you using on the choir?”
Of course my friend responded with kindness and honestly an answer I didn’t understand. He used a lot of numbers and letters with a name I recognized like “Shure.” However, I immediately took notice of the fact that once the guy got his answer he just said “thanks” and walked away. But he didn’t get the answer he was looking for. He may not have had the courage to ask or have the insight to know what to ask, but he was trying to figure out how my friend had made that choir sound so beautiful.
There’s two takeaways from this story for me. First, is from the perspective of my friend. Whenever someone asks us a question, are you able to determine the deeper question that lies within? Are we able to dig through the surface question to understand what they really want to learn? Do we even have time to answer the deeper question? There’s always a question behind the question. He was asking “what” when he was digging for a how or why… and my friend missed that opportunity.
All great leaders will be challenged with this situation because when you lead people, they won’t always know how to ask the deeper question. So they ask the question they know how to ask, hoping a leader is able to provide the answer they’re desperately searching for.
The second perspective, and the one I spent the most time thinking about, is the guy who asked the question. He may have cared in some detail about the specific model of the microphones… but I have to imagine that knowing the model would only get him a tiny bit closer to creating a similar sound or effect.
When you or I ask questions or we seek to learn something new… do we allow ourselves to verbalize the deeper questions and open up opportunities to learn a wealth of information and insight?
Do we seek to understand instead of just know?
Or are we plagued with the shame of not wanting to be caught not knowing something?
Great leaders ask great questions because they value the idea of learning and knowing more with an incredibly high regard. What’s the deeper question you’re begging to ask and what are the deeper questions your team is asking you?