Friday, February 10th, 2023

The Way To Coach A Person – Flashback

“It’s not hard to find smart people. It’s hard to find people who inspire and motivate.” – David Maister

It’s Friday again and time for another Friday Flashback. This is one of my favorites about David Maister.

From January 2019:

An Effective Way to Coach a Person

If you never heard David Maister speak in person, you lost out on a memorable experience. He was vibrant and very direct.  He often would stop himself and say, “Okay, I’ve got to calm down.”

One lesson from Maister that I have never forgotten is an example he used in explaining the effective way to coach a person (a partner in a CPA firm, for example). The method is called “the pigeon story,” and he presented it in his humorous and logical fashion. I’ll try to summarize it briefly. 

If you want a pigeon (partner) to progress to another “place” that is too distant from them, they can’t do it in one huge step.

You draw a line very close in front of them and draw them there. You coach them by saying, “Come on Pigeon, you can do it, I will help you.”

When they get there, you celebrate and then draw another line not too far in front of them.

Same with people (partners). It is too hard to make a gigantic leap to an annual goal – it is too far in the distance. Instead, set a goal that is a small step away and continually repeat, “Come on partner, you can do it. I will help you.” After seven or eight lines (small steps, 9 or 10 for tax partners), they arrive at the larger goal.

  • "The way to get rich is don’t get sucked into doing dumb stuff for people you don’t like."
  • David Maister

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