Herding cats is an idiomatic expression that denotes a futile attempt to control or organize a class of entities that are inherently uncontrollable. Managing and motivating is like herding cats. Cats follow where the food is. The best way to herd cats is to move the food bowl.
Cats can’t be controlled. Cats do what they want. With cats, you might be able to influence their behavior but never control it. It is like humans. So what do we do to herd them? Move the food bowl. Cats will go where the food is. Just like humans, they go where their best interest is.
In motivation and managing people, you have to know what to put in the food bowl and how to move it. Find out what they really wanted, what interests them, and what are the things they value the most. You need to win their trust. Build trust and mutual respect. This of course takes time.
People are motivated to do something when they feel significant and wanted. They feel that a sense of belongingness. The best way to motivate and manage people is to really know what they want and give it to them.