Often paraphrased as “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” Mohandas Gandhi actually wrote:“We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.” (Vol. 13, Ch. 153, page 241)
Put another way, we might say that leadership is concerned not with being a thermometer, but with being a thermostat. Our primary interest is not just reporting the temperature – but in exerting influence and encouragement in order to change the temperature.
Just as a thermostat must have an accurate thermometer, a leader must be able to honestly assess the current state of the organization in order to make corrections to the environment. However like a thermostat, a leader must also outline the steps necessary to change the climate of the organization toward the preferred future.
As leaders, it’s important that our own attitudes, actions, and words are consistent with this preferred vision of the future. Even though the preferred future is not yet reality, we must live as though it is coming true day by day. As we do this, team members begin to catch the vision, and it not only guides our future – but the present as well. Rarely does this happen all at once, and the wise leader learns to celebrate each baby step toward the goal.
Consequently, change within an organization begins at the top. A leader must not only see the current state of the organization, but have the vision to see the desired future. With that vision in mind, the leader executes the steps necessary to change the culture, and begins to communicate expectations to the team members.
A leader must not only see the current state of the organization, but have the vision to see the desired future. ~ Tweet this!
Instead of merely mirroring the status quo, or getting caught up in the negative aspects of the environment, wise leaders take to heart those words of Gandhi, that by changing oneself – we thereby change the attitudes of the world around us.
What are some of the ways you have seen a leader move from being a thermometer to being a thermostat? What are some of the steps you take toward changing the culture of your organization?