It's not uncommon for organizations to have a number of groups, some of whom are regarded as the average rank and file, and others who are considered the elite, the best of the best. Without a doubt, it's true that people come in all shapes, sizes and descriptions, leaving some better suited for a task than others. Extending this line of reasoning even further, you can see how this naturally paints a picture where any group will have the equivalent of the unwashed masses and those capable, exceptional people who are destined to accomplish great things.
Although it would be unrealistic to expect every person within your walls to be a superstar, the problem arises when you start making class distinctions. The moment you see one group as less worthy than the next, you're going to start treating them that way. Whether you're a leader, a member of another group, or even one of the aforementioned unwashed masses, this perception is going to have a disastrous effect on what gets accomplished. If you feel that a certain job description or department in your company is populated by little more than cattle who are not capable of doing anything beyond their menial or simplistic tasks, it's a safe bet you'll never get anything more than that out of them.
Most organizations are run with a level of upper management that does the strategic thinking and planning for the organization. They're trained professionals in the art of running a business, and to these experienced hands fall the task of analyzing the marketplace, evaluating and anticipating the moves of the competition, and every other major planning initiative that drives the direction and success of the company as a whole. Of course, most of those who pursue upper management wouldn't have any idea of what to do if they were placed in the front lines of their company's production and service groups. It's not their area of expertise.
However, if strategy, planning, and creative thinking are the exclusive domain of management, where does that leave your front line workers? No matter how effective the executives at the helm, the products and services of any organization are produced by the people who aren't expected to do any thinking of their own. And yet, these people are the face of your company. You will be judged both by the quality of their products and the effectiveness and sincerity of their service.
If upper management cannot realistically be expected to know the ins and outs of these areas, and the people doing the job aren't expected to constantly search for a better way of doing things, how long do you think it will be before your competition overtakes you in the market?
Effective strategy is just as important in the work of the day to day production people as it is in the high level board meetings, so why not put some time and effort into teaching them the art? Although your production workers won't be considering matters of high level corporate planning, the fundamental principles are the same regardless of the task. Most of all, if you show them that you value their ideas and contributions, you'll be amazed at how quickly they come alive.
Customers are won or lost by your least paid workers. Instill a sense of pride in their ability to create superior strategies for the work that they do, and help them improve these skills whenever possible. When they believe that they, too, are the elite, they'll start acting like it. What chance do you think the unwashed masses of your competition will have the next time they compete with your newly inspired and engaged workers, who take pride in always being able to do it better, faster, and more creatively?
A company with an elite group of top performers is impressive. An organization comprised of nothing but the elite is invincible.