Too many teams and leaders operate in Thermometer Mode.
Without clarity of the type of culture they are trying to create and leader they need to be, the culture they end up experiencing is purely reactionary. The temperature just goes up and down depending on who is in the room or what is happening in the external environment. One day it’s hot and the next day it’s cold. Like a thermometer, the culture only reacts to the environment it is in.
The best leaders and teams on the planet operate in Thermostat Mode.
With clarity and precision, they know the temperature they are trying to set as a leader and a collective team. No matter what is happening in the external environment they proactively set the temperature they desire. The focus isn’t just on WHAT they are going to do, but on HOW they do it as leaders and unified teams. Like a thermostat, the culture is proactively shaped by the consistent temperature they set.
The best leaders and organizations understand that calibrating the thermostat doesn’t just magically happen. It’s not reactionary, it’s proactive. The best team cultures are committed day in and day out, month in and month out, year in and year out to calibrating their thermostat and gaining alignment and clarity on the temperature they desire to set in the future.
4 ways to calibrate your team:
1. Mission — The Mission is WHY you are going on the journey you’re on. It is the heartbeat and soul to all your efforts. Return your team to purpose by involving them in discussion on why they are on the journey you’re on as a team. What’s your collective Mission and each teammate’s individual Mission? Help clarify the Mission so that everyone is clear from the beginning why you’re going to the efforts you are as an organization.
2. Vision — The Vision is WHERE you are heading as a team or organization. It’s the dream of what is possible and what can be created together. Paint the picture of what you hope to create that doesn’t exist and what that future Vision looks like. What’s your collective Vision as a team and the individual Vision for each contributor’s role? Help clarify the Vision so everyone is clear on the end game and the desired results of all efforts.
3. Values — Your Values are HOW you are committed to traveling along the journey. They are the compass that helps you know that you are on track with HOW you’re committed to traveling. Values aren’t dictated to us, but are discovered, discerned and identified by participatory discussion. What are the unified Values that will guide you as a team and what do they look like in action and behavior? Help clarity the Values so that your teams have a compass for HOW they’ll travel together.
4. Strategy — The strategy is WHAT you are going to do proactively to bring the Mission, Vision and Values to life. It’s the game plan that clarifies the priorities, people, and next actions to bring the dream into reality. With clear direction for the road ahead, what are the next actions needed to stimulate progress individually and collectively as a team? Help clarity who is on the journey and who is doing what. Have a bias toward action that stimulates progress toward the Vision.
Every time you return to these discussions and seek clarity as a team, the thermostat begins to calibrate. Every time you deliver on the actions and behaviors you envisioned, the temperature becomes even more consistent and felt. Culture-shaping is not a one time act, flavor of the month or annual exercise, it requires ongoing discussion, focus, accountability and action. The temperature is intentional and consistent.
The best cultures proactively set the temperature throughout their organization. They are grown, developed, cultivated and led with intentionality. The process for developing high-performing and engaged cultures never stops and the best leaders, teams and organizations are committed to setting the temperature in how they hire, onboard, do performance evaluations, develop emerging leaders, and recognize excellence. The best leaders invest in their cultures and the climate they want to be a part of.
If you’re experiencing negativity, blame, blurry vision, division, disconnection or uncertainty, it may be time to calibrate the thermostat!
About the Author:
Jason V. Barger is the globally-celebrated author of Thermostat Cultures, ReMember and Step Back from the Baggage Claim as well as the host of The Thermostat podcast. As Founder of Step Back Leadership Consulting, he is a coveted keynote speaker, leadership coach and organizational consultant who is committed to engaging the minds and hearts of people and growing compelling cultures. Learn more at