Education Opinion

Thermostat Leaders

By Stu Silberman — December 02, 2013 2 min read
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Following is a post from guest blogger Phil Paige, a long-time district administrator now serving as a consultant to the Floyd County Schools.

If there’s any value to experience, and there is, maybe it’s how it helps in simplifying things. Take leaders, for example: we only need two
categories ... thermostat leaders and all the rest.

Time to go a little This Old House on you...let’s define thermostats as electronic devices used to control the comfort of an indoor environment
and they control by changing things when needed. Don’t weird out over my use of control; think little good “c” not big bad “C”. The thermostat leader
doesn’t react to the environment but rather changes it to what it should be. Sure, changing things is a reaction but the key is acting upon the
environment rather than being acted upon by the environment.

So what do thermostat leaders do that others don’t? Read on and remember its doing these things on a consistent basis that makes you a thermostat leader.

· Thermostat leaders get things done. The job is about getting stuff done. Plans and strategies are great but you’re after results so focus on the end
product. Results....we say it all the time.

· Thermostat leaders analyze problems and make sound decisions. You get things done most often by solving problems and you solve problems best by analyzing
data, reviewing processes and procedures for effectiveness and getting quality input.

· Thermostat leaders understand accountability and responsibility and how they relate to the big picture. They know the Main Thing and the things that must
be done so the Main Thing gets done.

· Thermostat leaders always hold themselves and others accountable. We judge and are judged on what we get done, how we get it done and if we fulfill the
commitments we make. That’s how it ought to be. Often we call the last two integrity.

· Thermostat leaders inspire excellence and commitment in others. Leadership author John Maxwell says, “We reproduce who we are.” This includes
understanding your strengths and areas for growth, learning from your mistakes and working to improve. Whether you know it or not and whether you like it
or not, at your organization you represent leadership. Good or bad.

· Thermostat leaders demonstrate interpersonal skills. This includes being able to coach and grow folks along with understanding the difference between
listening and waiting until you can talk again. Listening, really listening, is active not passive.

· Thermostat leaders accept risk and take on difficult assignments. They’re comfortable with who they are and in their abilities. They know that failure is
always a possibility but are optimistic about success.

Public education needs as many thermostat leaders as we can get. How about you?

The opinions expressed in Public Engagement & Ed Reform are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.