Thermostat Leadership is a somewhat ‘tongue in cheek’ but realistic leadership lesson. It is simplistic and unique, but a powerful learning opportunity.

Leaders work like thermometers or thermostats. Thermometer leaders listen and watch the environment. The little temperature dial works very hard going up and down reading the environment. It isn’t directive; it doesn’t have values, ethics or a vision.  It just follows and shares opinions.

The thermometer leader doesn’t set goals, rarely hits targets, and accepts mediocrity, peer pressure and poor performance. They follow the trend without thought for results, accomplishment or values. They will be replaced and their organizations become obsolete.

“But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” (James 1:6 NIV)

The thermostat Leader is significantly different. This leader reads the environment, compares it to a goal, reviews a set of values, and looks to a vision, then implements changes as necessary. The thermostat leader sets goals on a continual basis. These goals will be timed, measurable and capable of subdivision. Time will be allocated to move each task closer to the goal.  Plans are made for the important tasks and the goals are followed to achieve the anticipated result.

Thermostat leaders share a bias for action. When an idea hits they jump in and motivate the people to find a solution. They work with an idea, then change and adjust to get results.  Good ideas don’t save time or money until implemented. Staff will experiment on a continual basis. Staff consider risk-taking a natural part of the job. Failure is temporary, accepted and to be expected. Learning from mistakes allows opportunities to become better, more effective and more productive.

This week, let’s all consider the thermostat leadership style. 

Yours in Service,

Laurie D. Kennedy

Author, Leadership is Devotions for Servant Leaders