I’ve just won my first ever curling competition as a ‘skip’. 7 teams fought out a league, 4 reached the semis, and my team, with me as ‘skip’, eventually triumphed in the final. Joy oh joy unbounded!
If you’ve ever chanced upon a curling match on television, you’ll have seen the skip. He’s the guy standing at one end of the rink calling the ‘plays’ and screaming at his team to sweep or not sweep the stone as it slides down the ice towards the ‘house’. The house being the various coloured circles in which your stones and the opposition’s stones nestle. The more stones you have nearer the centre of the house, the more points you gain. ‘Marbles for grown ups’, my wife calls it.
There are four players in a team. The skip is normally the best player, and the first or ‘lead’ player is generally the weakest in the team. Though, whenever you play lead, a good skip will always enthuse about the key role that the ‘lead’ plays in building each ‘end’ i.e. each player throws 2 stones, 16 in all, makes one end of curling and a match will consist of 7 or 8 ends.
Why on earth am I blogging about this, rather than some business thing? Well, because there are parallels with coaching the sales staff and building their skills and confidence. This particular league competition is about reversing the normal rules of curling so that the not-so-good player has the opportunity to skip the team and develop his skills. I might normally play at lead or at second which, within my club of very experienced players, is my real level. But, by letting me skip and giving me a very experienced skip to play at 3 alongside me and offer advice, my playing skills and overall understanding of the game are improved. And, who knows, maybe one day I will be a ‘real’ skip?
We should all be looking for opportunities to take this into the workplace. For the next sales meeting you have with a prospect, take along one of your sales team and see if you can sit back, bite your tongue and let them lead the meeting.
And, only if things are going slightly awry should you find yourself screaming at the top of your voice – SWEEP!!