Thermometer v/s Thermostat leadership.
Updated: Dec 21, 2019
In my early days, I have learned that an individual must make up their mind about accepting a role of leadership in which you are entrusted to guide others in a right direction to get a job done right.
In Leadership lessons, the ‘Thermometer’ and ‘Thermostat’ analogy is very popular. A lot has been said and written by many Leaders on this concept, only the perspective of every leader is different.
If we go by a simple definition of Thermometer and a Thermostat, in general, a thermometer reads the temperature and reflects the temperature to the viewer while a thermostat regulates the temperature. It helps control the temperature by making small adjustments to keep the set temperature constant.
Like people of different natures and characteristics, thermometers also come in different styles and appearances.
Some are short, some are long and thin ones.
Some are with all sorts of signs, symbols, and fancy readouts and some are with a kind of ornamental look.
Yet, with all their flashing and eye-catching garnishments, all they ever do is reflect the temperature of the surrounding area.
If it’s hot, they display hot and if it’s cold they display cold, a rather uninspiring way.
So when the thermometer is freaking out, every viewer is too reacting. Everyone's reactions, responses, and emotions go up and down with the temperature displayed. In short, the thermometer is just passing information- hot or cold. Good or bad, useful or not so useful in a very passive manner.
On the other hand, a Thermostat is a component that senses the surrounding temperature and performs actions such that set-point temperature is being maintained.
Simply put, the thermostat is an active component while the thermometer is passive as far as temperature is concerned.
A thermostat sets the pace, the tone, in our case it is the temperature, so it will accommodate the right temperature to allow the comfort to thrive on, so-called - getting the job done.
A good thermostat works so well that no one will notice or will know it’s actually set the tone, but if it’s missing or not working well or to that matter, if it is replaced by a normal thermometer, then everyone will know and feel the absence of the thermostat.
If we extend this analogy to our day to day workplace, an insecure boss, who is nothing more than a thermometer, can react to situations and only reflect those work anxieties.
Then the tone is set in which no one trusts anyone. Gossip becomes the only source of company information. People won’t make a simple decision and everything will be thrown up and down.
A Thermostat Leader, on the other hand, takes on the heat without reflecting out into space they occupy.
A Thermostat Leader walks out with a smile where everyone is and brings hope through smart decisions. This is because as a Leader he has calmed himself and has set his internal system first.
Then he is the position to provide guidance and lends a confidential ear to those in need. He isn’t afraid to jump in the trenches to help out if the need arises.
You will never hear a Thermostat Leader complain, whine, or gossip.
The best leaders and today’s organization cultures get into a process that defines the ‘Temperature’ (day-to-day issues) they are striving for, every day.
They strategically place leaders (thermostats) in all areas of the organization and work passionately to develop and grow more people to operate in thermostat mode.
They understand that their effectiveness is directly tied to their alignment around the temperature and thermostat effect.
We all experience all kinds of leadership lessons every day without our realization.
Next time you see a thermometer or a thermostat you will create your story differently about the environment you are trying to create at your workplace.