Are you a Thermometer or a Thermostat?

The simple test of leadership

One of the great leadership lessons I was taught growing up through youth sports that I carried with me through high school, college and now the workforce is this: There are two types of leaders, Thermometers and Thermostats.

Thermometer leaders react to the temperature around them. If people are down, they are down. If people are in a frenzy, they will be in a frenzy. You get the picture. We all know leaders who act this way.

Then walks in the different type of leader- the Thermostat. This leader is the one that walks in the room and the whole rooms just feels different. It can feel calmer, it can feel more intense- but whatever it is, this leader sets the temperature. These leaders are few and far between but when you meet one- you just know.


I always used the metaphor of Peyton Manning. The guy outworks and outsmarts defenses for a living, but what makes him such a difference maker on the field is that he is hard to rattle. You better believe when he walks into a meeting room- the temperature changes 10 degrees in one direction. He brings calm during stressful situations and intensity when needed.

I am not saying that all leaders have to be a thermostat. I do suggest that you go through this week and notice the leaders in your organization and see for yourself who is a thermostat and who is a thermometer. Take notice or your own actions and reactions and see if you change the temperature, or merely just react to it.