Fay Vietmeier in Leadership, Students, Entrepreneurs Consultant-Customer Advocate-Energy Broker • Aletheia Energy LLC Sep 19, 2019 · 5 min read · 4.7K

“Herding cats” & Wise herdsmen: coaching, collaborating and compromising for consensus

“Herding cats” & Wise herdsmen: coaching, collaborating and compromising for consensus

Thoughts on "herding cats"

One of the challenges ... one of the true tests of a good leader is the ability to bring a team of intelligent … often highly opinionated people together to accomplish goals & objectives. Finding unanimity & getting consensus … brings to mind the non-harmonious picture of “herding cats” … difficult … seemingly uncontrollable … and at times chaotic ;~)

Getting your team to care … collaborate & cooperate may seem exactly like “herding cats.”

                            The art of “herding cats” ... from the saddle of "wise herdsmen"

Now I grew up with dogs … trained them & love them … but in recent years I became part of the “Fellowship of Felines” … members are indelibly marked by their feline owners ;~) @claircardwell

It is written: that human beings are “fearfully & wonderfully made” … in my human opinion, animals are also “fearfully & wonderfully made” … like people, they possess unique & very distinctive personalities. I never cease to be amazed at how an animal can touch a human heart … while a person is bared that access. My dad was such a person ;~)

“A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not.” Earnest Hemingway

Here follows a brief description my “herd of cats” … with a perceptive eye you may recognize similar traits & personality types that match-up with the “cats” in your (people variety) “herd”

Several years ago I adopted a stray cat into my “herd” who looks like a skunk and eats like a pig ;~)

He was dubbed “Joyful-Oreo” because of his sweet temperament & nurturing personality. 

The “herd” grew when my son rescued a kitten who could fit in a teacup … we called her Princess Grace-ling (which means survivor) … she is markedly beautiful & she’s gray ;~) … now “Gracie” is what is known as a “scardy cat” … afraid of even her own shadow … almost unapproachable … she can only be touched on her terms & in moments of her choosing.

Stepping up to the plate of cream: “Oreo” took “Gracie” under his paw … calmed her fears, assured her and raised her up … they are inseparable ;~)
” took “Gracie” under his paw … calmed her fears, assured her and raised her up … they are inseparable ;~” took “Gracie” under his paw … calmed her fears, assured her and raised her up … they are inseparable ;~

Many years prior “Mr. Merlin” magically appeared with a note tied around his neck saying that “I should have a collar on him and not let him wander the neighborhood” (he had been showing up for food on the patio with regularity but I did not consider him “mine” … till the note ;~) … later I did add a collar ;~)

Now Mr. Merlin was an “alpha cat” … a natural leader (these refuse to be led and attempt to take charge. They want their food when they want it and the way that they like it … or else. They rebel when admonished. You don’t own an alpha cat – he owns you, or at least, he thinks he does ;~) “Merlin” I hope to brush up against in heaven ;~)

“Mr. Raggs” … this fellow came out of the woods behind my house with a bloody ear and countless afflictions … he was initially fearful of people, but with patience, food and time … trust was established & his life was turned “from rags to riches”

“Dharma” … was headed to a shelter when a friend of a friend called to ask if I would “take her” … over time I learned that she is highly intuitive … if she were a person & not a feline … she would be considered “emotionally intelligent” @PhilJohnson … She follows me around like a dog and comes when called in like manner. In hindsight, I should have renamed her “MAC” (most-annoying-cat ;~) because she jumps up on everything to gain perspective and at times her behavior is very demanding to the point of clawing for attention (but sometimes for good reason … recent case in point, the water dishes were empty and she was trying to let me know)

On day a feral cat in the neighborhood attacked “Oreo” … I named the attacker “Oscar the grouch” … after “Oscar the grouch” from Sesame Street who is known for grumbling and complaining … which bring some humor to his attitude and personality type … but in his defense “Oscar” lives in a garbage can… I think the fearful feline did too. My son said “Mom … don’t’ name him and don’t feed him” … but marshmallow that I am, I did both … and “Oscar” became part of the “herd” … in time wariness turned to trust he is now the most grateful animal on the planet (canned honey in a cat’s body ;~)

If you pay attention, even cats have reasons to be disagreeable but my “herd” has learned to compromise & care … now they enjoy the consensus of contentment.

They know “purr-fectly” their feline mission: giving JOY and holding onto their own.

                                                                                   Back to “herding cats”

In my way of thinking the ability to “herd cats” would require a wise herdsman and coach-able cats”

“Coach-able cats” are teachable:

Qualities you will find in “coachable cats” & coachable humans:
o They are in possession of a willing attitude. This is KEY. Willingness is the essential quality that makes one teachable. It paves the way to learn & grow. This quality transfers to how we interact in our relationships: at work and at home.
o They are able to listen … and hear
o They are able to see … and perceive
(get the bigger picture-understand the goal)
Listening & perception are core competencies which lend to emotional intelligence.
o They are authentic communicators
o They are willing to share knowledge
o They possess mental agility. “I get it … I can see where you’re headed”
o They have an attitude of humility (able to receive)
o They possess a sense of humor which helps “all things work for good” … this is of great value
o They are flexible. Not rigid in thinking. Willing & able to come together and move toward a common goal.
o They are contributors without complaining. Solution-seekers not fault-finders.
o Coachable beings will become leaders. They have a strong desire for personal growth.
o The best coachable creatures are grateful, thankful & thoughtful. “Human-sunflowers”

If you care to learn more about personal growth:

“Be a human-sunflower:


“Becoming your best you … Be the one who blossoms”


Learning is said to be a “master skill” … a key competency recognized in top performers

“The highest performing people are highly teachable. A willing attitude & grateful spirit flow out of the heart … this will produce the best blossoms” ~fem-v

“When the heart is ready the feet are swift” ~Abraham Lincoln


Cats may not be "highly intelligent" but they're not STUPID. They know who feeds and cares for them ;~)

If you are deemed “highly intelligent and highly opinionated” … but are not “coach-able”
you in don’t belong in my “herd.”

With “wise herding” … care & nurture … patience … collaboration & compromise … you will be much more likely to get cooperation … and consensus … for your goals & objectives

Find or cultivate “coach-able cats” … teachable people who want to “blossom”

Be that “wise herdsman” and in turn your (team-business-organization) will “blossom”

"It is not enough to just do your best or work hard. You must know what to work on."

~W. Edwards Deming 6 Sigma Principles ~

Closing thoughts about “wise herdsmen

o Wise herdsmen are good guides. They possess the ability to “herd cats” … direct potential chaos into a productive process that brings people together and moves them in the right direction.

o They are not self-seeking or self-serving

o They edify: build-up rather than tear-down

o They create a THINKING environment that fosters competency

o They look to the good of their “herd” to develop opportunities that nurture creativity, contribution and growth.

o They are artful communicators of vision & strategy: an essential competency to inspire people to follow and motivate them to achieve.

o They establish trust by being trustworthy (demonstrated by actions … not platitudes)

o They walk the talk of their well-worded “mission statements” & corporate “values”

We all know that words … without action … are meaningless.

What do your words say about you?


A glimpse of the bee called me ;~)

My curious nature makes me a “queen of questions” … but gifted with the ability to listen ;~) I'm a woman of deep faith, a blessed mother, a voracious reader, a blossoming writer, a grateful person, and a lover of beauty … I treasure family, true friendships and my loyal clients ... enjoy traveling, learning, good movies, good wine and golf. I’m a heart-to-heart communicator.

If my words make you think … Great ;~) let me know your thoughts “iron sharpens iron” https://www.bebee.com/@fay-vietmeier-pennsylvania


Fay Vietmeier Jan 14, 2020 · #5

@John Rylance
Thanks for remembering this book John
The YouTube kept freezing but I got through it
Great to share ...
This explains somethings about one my kitties rescued when she could fit in a tea cup ;~)
I'm pretty sure she has Aspergers Syndrome ;~)

John Rylance Jan 13, 2020 · #4

The following can be found on You Tube. All cats have Aspergers Syndrome. It relates to a very amusing book targeted at children and their parents to in a humorous way how much cat behaviour is similar to those diagnosed with the syndrome. I have shared it with many families, who have fun saying that's just like ......., laughing and moving on the the next picture/page. It is very non-threatening and a good starting point to discuss the condition and how to come to terms with it.

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Ilias Hossain Jan 13, 2020 · #3

User removed

Fay Vietmeier Sep 26, 2019 · #2

#1 @Glenn Melcher
Thank you for reading and commenting with encouragement ;~) I am "following" you on beBee and if you send an invite to connect on LI -I'll respond
“Nothing makes the earth seem so spacious as to have friends at a distance; they make the latitudes and longitudes.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

Glenn Melcher Sep 24, 2019 · #1

Incredible insight Fay regarding the “herding of cats”.. If You would consider I would love to connect on BeBee & LinkedIn..

Kind Regards: Glenn Melcher

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