We need sheep dogs.

I can relate this strange-sounding idea to banking and, particularly, to our ever more crucial sales processes. But first consider how sheep dogs behave.

They are brought up with sheep, but they know they are a breed apart. Being raised with sheep neutralizes dogs' natural instinct to attack, and they learn the sheep's behavior as well as their own.

These dogs have to know how to communicate to the ewes, the old sheep that control the herds. Sheep dogs may be tempted to bite, but they learn how to show the ewes the road to success.

Sheep sit down when frustrated. That's why shepherds have staffs-and sheep dogs, which are critical in keeping the sheep moving.

Sheep dogs will only listen to their shepherd, following orders from one clear source and not getting confused by the herd.

These dogs would never bite a sheep, and the latter know it. The dog is there to build a relationship.

The dog's presence itself tells the sheep where to go as he learns the direction from the shepherd, with whom the dogs also develop a special relationship.

Sheep dogs are responsive and execute the shepherd's directions quickly and efficiently. They have great concentration, are intelligent, and move rapidly. They can react to situations automatically with known patterns, which enables multitasking.

They are trainable, consistent, full of stamina, and in control of their aggressiveness. They are intensely loyal to, and desire to please, the shepherd by protecting and herding the sheep.

What does all this have to do with banking?

We all have branch managers and staff members who have ewe-like qualities. We need sheep dogs that know how to gnaw into their ankles without biting, that can share with them management's clear directions and keep them on track. We need people who know how to talk to these employees and not confuse grousing with raising substantive issues.

An effective sheep dog is a tremendous asset to any banking company in carrying the shepherd's vision through the ranks and becoming a communicator between the front office and the line.

Every bank can benefit from a good sheep dog, who grew up with the troops and has earned their trust. Make sure he grows with the ewes, knows how to talk with them, and listens to the shepherd.

To learn about other skills required and mastered by sheep dogs, see the movie "Babe." It shows how a pig learns to be a sheep dog; we can learn too.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.