When traditional classes, books and articles discuss leadership, it is normally focused at the higher levels in the organization. This is, of course, important. It is also easier to lead at the top levels because you have the authority – you can make other people do things. It comes with the territory.
However some of the most important leadership is done at the lowest levels in an organization. This is where one team member has to convince the other to step up and do the right thing or to do a job to a higher degree of quality. This is much easier said than done, because that team member with the good intentions has no authority over the fellow team member – he/she cannot make the other person do something. He/she can only convince the other person of why it is in every one’s best interest. This can be selling at its finest (like we teach in the sales session, everyone is in sales). One of the easiest ways to do it, is to Lead By Example.
The other extremely important place where leadership is conducted is between a supervisor and the front line worker. Because this is where the bulk of the real work is done in the organization. I just finished teaching some leadership courses to two different groups at a company. The first group was 15 supervisors and the second group 15 managers. The supervisor class argued that it was more important that they implement the leadership methods we were covering in the class (vs. their bosses – the management group) because the majority of the real work at the company was being done with the supervisors interfacing with the front line workers.
So we need leadership EVERYWHERE and we all need to LEAD BY EXAMPLE.