Have you ever tried to herd cats? It is a downright impossible task. Cats will resist being herded with all their strength. by nature, They are independent, self-centered, and detached. author Warren Bennis states, "managing people is like herding cats." His advice... “don’t try to manage people—lead them.”

Lead through Service

I suggest a more complete answer to managing people is servant leadership. Jesus’ model of leadership through service is the definitive answer to the task of leading others to God’s purposes.

The Challenge of Building a Leadership Team

One of the greatest challenges biblical, visionary leaders face is forming a leadership team that is healthy, cohesive, committed, and involved with the values of the Kingdom of God. This is exactly what Jesus did 2,000 years ago to establish the Church. His mission was to save people, but the process by which this happened was dependent upon a team of disciples—the twelve—whom He trained and challenged for the awesome task of "taking over the world."

Unique and Diverse

The great challenge of leading a team of leaders is dealing with different people, creating a loving community spirit in the group. Leaders are autonomous and unique by nature. This often makes the task of forming a team an exciting, yet exhausting challenge. Reaching a consensus among a diverse group of people is a tremendous victory—perhaps comparable to herding cats.

Like an Orchestra

This same task can be compared to a conductor of an orchestra. The conductor’s task is not to play music or micro-manage each instrument, but to ensure every musician is doing his or her part to the best of his or her ability. The beauty of orchestral music is that we get to hear diverse musicians playing different parts of one musical piece. The success of the orchestra and harmony of the music depends on everyone being focused on the same goal and committed to the harmony of the whole. That is the responsibility of their leader, the conductor.

People are not cats, though they may sometimes act like them—independent, self-centered, and detached. Trying to manage people can indeed be similar to herding cats. Leading them through service, on the other hand, will help each member give his or her unique contribution to accomplishing God’s vision, for His glory.

Action Question

Are there areas in your leadership where you are trying to herd cats?