What Kind of Leader are You? Thermometer or Thermostat?

There are visible patterns that emerge in leadership. Within the pet franchise and beyond there seems to be an observable dichotomy forming between thermostat leaders and thermometer leaders. Which one are you?


This question has been relevant since it was first posed to me by a business colleague. Let’s break down the metaphor.


A thermometer reflects the temperature of the environment. The instruments simple job is to tell what is happening around you. If the temperature if hot, this is it’s report. If the temperature is cold the same information is presented. In a new era of IoT (Internet of Things) technology becoming more prevalent, a thermometer is a seemingly dumb instrument. The thermometer doesn’t contain intelligent and multi-functional uses; it only serves one purpose.


On the other side of the spectrum, there is the thermostat. This instrument regulates the temperature and adjusts accordingly. The desired temperature is set, and a thermostat will monitor the ambient air temperature and make adjustments with the desired range. The instrument calls on other instruments—the air conditioner—to heat and cool as needed. The thermostat is intelligent and it’s role is to correct situations as needed.

How Can One Apply this to leadership in the Pet Franchise?


Assuming the role of leadership in a pet franchise is a calling: to be a leader in the community, to educate your customers, to oversee the health of hundreds of animals, and to coach a team that is conducive to all of this.


A thermometer leader will buckle under the pressure. When tensions are high, the stress of owning a small business in the pet franchise takes its inevitable toll, a thermometer leader will lash out. They will mirror their environment—loose their cool. They will shout, curse, become demanding, critical, and overly harsh without providing the right coaching to rectify the situation.


Thermometer leadership does not establish the trust and credibility needed to build a lasting business relationship—it makes it caustic.


A suitable owner of a pet franchise should fall much more toward the thermostat leadership style.


A thermostat leader has a constant gauge of the morale, productivity, stress level, and environmental conditions of their pet franchise shop. When morale lowers, a thermostat leader listens. What are the concerns? The scarcity of resources? Deadlines? Workload? They discern the problems, set goals, and work with their staff to systematize a way for things to become more productive, manage workloads, and manage realistic goals for deadlines.


The first step is having active conversations. Listening to the concerns of your employees and streamlining this into practical steps for the pet franchise to improve. Regulating the environment through support and by providing some jovial fun during the opportune times when pressure surmounts.

Why is Thermostat Leadership so Important to Owners in the Pet Franchise?


The pet franchise takes a huge amount of diligence. Pet franchise owners are not only responsible for maintaining retail sales numbers, but they are also the face of their shop. The responsibility for hundreds of their loyal customer’s animals rests on them. There is a constant state of adjustment.


The calming influence of a thermostat leader is the drive of the shop.


When things slow down, thermostat leaders refocus their teams on the vision, purpose, and goals. Regulating the environment requires vigilance over passive reflection like a thermometer leadership style. Active monitoring leaders know when to challenge their employees, how to motivate them constructively. We could all use a friendly kick in the butt and a thermometer leader knows how to administer this in a calm effective way.


A pet franchise should run with a sense or urgency, priorities recognized, and current initiatives are completed swiftly. Sternness alone cannot get this done, especially in a pet franchise where employees are dealing with animals and need to have a loving focus. When things slow down, adjustments are made. When things pick up, thermostat leaders give the guidances, support, and resources to support the workload. Balance.


Trust is Key


Thermostat leadership supervises on a basis of trust and builds their staff up. This is key for a pet franchise where the ultimate goal is self-sufficiency. When the heat is on a thermostat leader comes in a cools everything down with calming leadership that is determined and positively motivates. No one wants a boss to come in when the shop is busy and immediately start yelling and pointing fingers of blame.


Thermostat leadership calmly makes adjustments and instills confidence in their staff.




Thermostat leaders are attuned to their environment to the point where they can truly empathize with their employees. They know the stress, challenges, and hardships their staff has on their shoulders and can take the time to alleviate these difficulties into a constructive business model.


When employees trust you, this makes the job incredibly easier. Store morale will be higher. Productivity will be less strained. Work ethic becomes not a burden but a welcomed responsibility.


The pet franchise thrives on thermostat leaders. Now, ask yourself which one are you? A thermostat or a thermometer?  


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