Herding Sheep

Sheep_herdingI often hear clients refer to “herding sheep” as a reflection of how hard it is to get everyone moving at roughly the same pace and in the same direction.

It occurs to me that many may not really understand the comment. I was raised on a ranch in Wyoming (I still own our brand, the /7, the “open a seven”) and we had both sheep and cattle.

Cattle were very independent and tended to roam at will. They knew where the food and the shelter was to be found, at least right up to winter when we needed to bring them in to a central headquarters location.

There we could care for them during the worst weather when little or no food, and surely no salt, was available on the range.
Sheep were another issue.

There were three levels of “leadership” needed.

First, the indispensable sheep dogs nipped at the sheep’s heels to get their attention and keep them moving together as a group, rather like many sales managers.

Second, we had a lead goat. The goat’s job was to lead the flock to the next green pasture where feeding was plentiful; rather like the marketing manager who needs to discover and present new and innovative ways to help salespeople thrive.

Third, we had a sheepherder whose primary job was to protect the herd from predators. I’ve seen sheepherders walk for miles over difficult terrain carrying a new lamb on their shoulders, bringing it back to a nursing mother.

I see this role rather like senior management. They are the leaders who protect
sales people from those who detract from focus, causing them to become wayward and lost or at least less productive.
It’s interesting to me how often life is imitated in different ways and different places. Perhaps we should re-think our sales management roles using the “herding sheep” example. Hope you enjoyed another of my analogies!