Be a Thermostat, Not a Thermometer


by Billy J. Grogan, Top Cop Leadership

Billy J. Grogan

The temperature here in Atlanta has been extremely hot this summer. Of course, I prefer hot weather over cold any day.

As I thought about the weather, I couldn’t help but think about the difference between a thermostat and a thermometer.

A thermostat registers the temperature in the room and adjusts its setting according to how it has been programed to regulate the temperature. A thermometer, on the other hand, takes the temperature and reports the results.

A thermometer has little power or influence while a thermostat has both.

Good leaders operate like a thermostat.

A Thermostat Sets the Temperature

A good leader creates the right environment inside the organization, which provides a productive climate to work in. The right environment is extremely important to the success of any organization.

A thermostat can control the temperature in multiple rooms. By creating a comfortable environment to work in, a good leader sets the tone for the entire organization. This environment may consist of different shifts, units and precincts.

A Thermostat is Constant

Leaders who come to work each and every day, even handed and in control, are the best leaders for their organization. They provide consistency for their staff, which is a much-desired leadership trait.

A good leader never acts out of frustration, explodes in exasperation or makes decisions in desperation.

A Thermometer Reacts Rather Than Responds

Law enforcement leaders face difficult problems each and every day. One crisis leads to another. It is the nature of our job.  How we as leaders respond to these difficulties provides insight into our capabilities as a leader.

Leaders should avoid getting too excited when circumstances get troublesome. A calm, planned response provides a better outcome and sets the best example for staff.

Organizations led by thermostat leaders are healthier, accomplish more and are a great place to work for the entire staff.

Be a thermostat leader.    

Billy J. Grogan is the Chief of Police of the Dunwoody Police Department and a 36-year law enforcement leader, who currently writes articles for, a go-to resource for aspiring police chiefs and current police chiefs alike. He also currently serves on the Human and Civil Rights Committee of the IACP and is the Immediate Past President of the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police.


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