The Second Eclectic

Technology changes how we relate to God and each other

Bottom leaders

The director of my department at work had an impromptu motivational speech in the office today. He differentiated between management and leadership. Management is organizing resources to get a job done. Leadership is envision and different future and mobilizing people to work toward it. He came up with four components for leadership.

Imagination: Imagining a future other than the one you’re en route to.
Writing down the seeds of your ideas.
Soliciting the help of others. (I think. . .)
Leading by example.

Then he talked about how change begins. It could start, he suggested, with our COO or with himself, but creating change through top-down leadership isn’t a sure thing.  He singled out a colleague of mine who started a reading group, to read and discuss good writing, to shape our aesthetic, to give us a vision of what the books we work on could be with some work. He’s definitely a leader by example, but within our department, he’s one of the youngest workers here.

The term “bottom leader” came to mind. I like it because it rhymes with “bottom feeder” and communicates a place and a humility in leadership. But it also communicates a grassroots-level style of leadership. My colleague would be a bottom leader in this way. How does he do it? Well, I tell him he’s a “raver.” He convinces more people to read books than anyone I know just because he goes on and on about them. He talks, unabashedly, about their distinct value and the qualities that make them worthy of raving about. He nearly convinced me to read The Brothers Karamazov as a summer project.

I think bottom leading is a relatively thankless job. I think a lot of bottom leaders rankle against the authorities and eventually lose heart and the will to persevere. Bottom leaders want to change the way things are, but often they have few resources beyond love and passion to fuel interest for the change they seek. But sometimes you just keep raving because the vision is just that big.

Just a few Monday morning thoughts. Hail to the bottom leaders.