Leading difficult people can be like herding cats. No matter what you do, they won't follow you. You have goals to accomplish but certain people just aren't interested in what you are trying to achieve. They want to do things their own way and often seem to just ignore you. We have all experienced this. The good news, however, is that people aren't cats. And, we don't have to just force people to comply with our wishes. There is an easier way. Casting a clear vision as leaders helps us facilitate team progress in the most challenging of circumstances.
Herding cats is an impossible task. While some animals will fall in line when prompted, cats will have nothing to do with order. They will do what they want, when they want to do it.
While some people love this trait in cats, it becomes problematic when you are supposed to lead them. Can you imagine trying to round up 10 cats in a situation where a tornado is on its way? It would be in their best interest to go into a cellar, but without picking each one up and carrying them in, you aren't going to be able to get them to safety.
In thinking of this analogy of herding cats, I can think of three main ways to gather up a group of cats. First you could try to round them up, much like you would with other animals. You could get behind them and try to push (or shoo) them in the direction you are heading, just like a farmer herds sheep.
Secondly, you could run around and pick one up at a time and place it in the location that you want it to stay. Keeping them in that place, however, may be easier said than done.
Finally, you could choose to just put out some food. If the cats haven't eaten in a while, they will make their way to the food. Even if they aren't hungry right now, they will eventually come around.
Leading difficult people can be similar to herding cats. Trying to push them in the direction you want will often only result in frustration and discouragement. Alternatively, a clear vision will help people to see the end result and have clear objectives and goals. Setting a clear vision is much more effective than trying to force people to be in agreement with our agenda.
Chasing Out Darkness
I was recently talking with a manager who was discouraged that his staff were just not taking ownership. The manager felt like he had to constantly crack a whip with his team and was not getting the results he wanted. He was frustrated and at the point of exhaustion.
This manager found himself in a position we have all been in. He worked and worked to push them into satisfactory results. The problem he faced, however, was that no one really wanted to do what he asked. As he explained the situation to me, it seemed like he was trying to push darkness out of a room.
No matter what you do, pushing darkness out of a room is not an easy task. But there is an easier way; to turn on the light.
Casting a clear and compelling vision is like turning on a light in a dark room. The vision can be the incentive and motive our staff need in order to get on board and take ownership in our agenda.
Benefits of a Clear Vision
As leaders, one of our most powerful tools is vision casting. Without a vision, people are lost and uninspired. A clear vision does a number of things for a leader, and here are a few of the benefits:
- A clear vision provides direction. It gives people something to follow. Without a vision, people will begin to do their own thing, in a direction that may or may not align with yours.
- A clear vision gives provides motivation. It gives people something to work toward.
- It provides them accountability. When a vision is clearly established, goals can be set and quantitatively measured. People generally want to perform up to the expectations, and a clear vision helps to establish those expectations.
- A vision also provides unity for the team. While individuals may have disagreements and preferences, a vision is something that a team can get behind and work together for.
How has a clear vision helped you or your organization achieve goals?