Anyone, in any capacity in any organization can display the qualities of leadership. To be a leader is to influence others to see things in a different way or to use influence to compel change.
One of the best ways to influence change in an organization is to bump the ideas up the chain of command. How you do this will have a significant correlation to your success. Many bosses don't like their underlings telling them what they should be doing or what direction they should be leading the organization. So, best to avoid being so blunt with the boss.
A better approach is the soft sell. Wait for the time to be right and then float the idea past the boss. If you're really coy about it you can actually do this in such a way that the boss thinks the idea was his or hers. If you can do that, it's far more likely to get traction. If the idea doesn't take hold. Don't become too pushy. Rather, be patient and wait for another opportunity for the idea to be floated. This time you might say "The solution to this problem is very similar to the ideas we were talking about a few weeks ago." Notice... you don't say "MY idea..."
You'll be amazed how much you can get accomplished through your boss when you don't care who takes the credit. If you want a better organization, let go of the credit and let all your good ideas become your boss's ideas. With some finesse, it is possible to manage up the chain of command.
Fire Chief (ret.) Richard B. Gasaway, PhD, EFO, CFO, MICP
Gasaway Consulting Group