It’s no secret that many people’s best place to think, to free-associate, to be hit by the divine bolt of afflatus that gives them their greatest idea ever is when they have water on them. A strong flow blasting over head and body, subconscious mind ticking away on problems while the loofah scrubs away filth with the assistance of mango-scented bodywash, and a general mood of solitary relaxation.
But it also strikes me, as I tap away here on my phone’s Word app (don’t worry, I’ve wrapped the device in a haptics-enabled sleeve so it won’t get wrecked) that leaders can be broadly put into four shower-based categories: two good, one neutral, one terrible.
As a leader, are you:
A hot shower on a cold day
This is a bathroom situation that you never want to leave, and in the best cases that good feeling lingers even as the steam dissipates, leaving your cheeks flushed with an internal warmth. In managerial terms, this is your comfort and inspiration model – the leader who lends you the internal fortitude to face the worst excesses of the day.
A cold shower on a hot day
The summertime equivalent is still amazing, but never quite lives up to expectations. You always end up making the flow a bit warmer than you planned to before you climbed in. Nevertheless, it’s a refreshing dip that you miss as soon as you’re dressed. This kind of leader is one who steps in when things get too overwhelming and reminds you that you can do this thing.
A hot shower on a hot day
This is the kind of spray to undergo out of necessity rather than any sense of joy. It’ll do the job, it’ll keep you clean and on track, but it isn’t anything you look forward to. Here’s your default leader – they pay you on time, they keep the workflow moving but they aren’t inspiring and leave you kinda sweaty despite your best efforts.
A cold shower on a cold day
The worst. You take the sadness of being chilly and make it much worse – the only positive moment in the experience is bundling up in a warm towel afterwards (which is akin to bashing your head against a wall because it feels good when you stop). These leaders like to think of themselves as bracing, challenging their team and keeping everyone on their toes – but we all hate them.