Which is the most important role in a company, the worker, the leader or the manager? Can one do without the other, can the roles be combined, and is it important to differentiate the roles? In this discussion a leader is the front-line supervisor who in-turn is supervised by a manager.
I once heard a discussion between a bricklayer and his labourer. The labourer wanted more money and was pushing his point by saying that without him loading the bricks, mixing the mortar, and building the scaffold the bricklayer couldn't lay the bricks.
The bricklayer countered that he was the tradesman, the person who had trained for four years so that he was able to lay the bricks properly. He followed with "If I don't lay the bricks neither of us will get paid." A good point. The labourer came back with "But you couldn't lay the bricks without the bricks and mortar." It was a circular argument.
Never one to sit back quietly and listen to a discussion without wanting to add something myself so I expressed that the bricklayer could mix the mortar and load the bricks himself but he could never lay as many bricks. Likewise, the labourer could do the same but the bricks wouldn't be laid as fast and perhaps not as decorous. Then we must think of the site manager without whom you wouldn't know when and where to start laying the bricks.
The answer was of course that all relied on each other to perform at their best. Organisations are the same. You need good managers to manage the business so that team leaders can supervise staff, and the staff have to be good at their work to achieve the organisations goals. At the top you could also have a person who is a strong manager and an inspirational leader but that isn't the purpose of this discussion.
Is there a more important role, the worker, the leader, the manager? For me the answer is no. Is there a more important title, for me it is yes because we can all become one regardless of our role. A leader. Leaders aren't just those who have the word in their title or job description, they lead in whatever part of the organisation they work in.
To me a leader is a person who shows others what to do, one who leads by setting a positive example. And that person can be at any level in the organisation. No matter what your role may be, become a leader and positively influence those around you. The rewards of doing so will be returned to you.