Thermometers read the temperature. Thermostats set and modulate the temperature. This is an important distinction, not only in climate control, but also in the area of leadership.
While the context of this article is focused on the proper development of student-athletes, there are clear and obvious implications for the effective development of leaders in the corporate setting.
I believe first-year athletes usually enter our teams as a thermometer. They want to blend in. They want to get playing time, keep their nose clean and not mess up. So they look around and try to mimic the players around them. They reflect the climate, good or bad. This is natural. I believe we must challenge student athletes to become thermostats as they move into their sophomore year and certainly, as they become upper classmen. They’ll be needed to turn up the temperature when passion is necessary, or turn down the heat and calm things down at other times. Influence is the essence of leadership, whether or not they have a title.