Why Great Leaders Have Influence

Why Great Leaders Have Influence

Amy Snow 6 min read

Warm Up

Peyton Manning. Two-time Super Bowl Champion, Super Bowl MVP, fourteen-time Pro Bowler, five-time NFL MVP. The list of accolades goes on and on. As an athlete, he was superb, one of the best of all time!

But that’s not what set him apart—he was also one of the most respected athletes. It is who he is as a man; how he carried himself both on and off the field; how he spoke about his teammates and coaching staff/personnel; how he spoke to the media with such grace and appreciation, never disparaging anyone and always saying they won and lost as a team; how he consistently devoted time and resources to disadvantaged kids. A major local Indianapolis hospital even renamed their children’s hospital after him because of the generosity of both he and his wife (they purposely did not want the amount ever to be made public). His influence will be forever felt in both Indianapolis and Denver.


The Law of Influence says that “the true measure of leadership is influence—nothing more, nothing less.” That is the picture of Peyton. He was a leader among leaders. His influence was felt on his team, in the community, and throughout the NFL.

Influence is vital if you want to lead others. Leadership is not about title or position—it can’t be awarded, appointed or assigned. It must be earned.

Margaret Thatcher, the former British prime minister, observed, “Being in power is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.” When it comes to identifying a real leader, don’t look at the title or credentials or listen to the person professing to be the leader. Look at their influence. Proof of leadership is found in the followers.

Jesus was the leader of all leaders when he walked the earth. By worldly standards, no one would have pegged him as a leader—born in a stable to a poor family in a lowly town.

No title. No position. No prestige.

This is the understatement of the world, but—Jesus had influence.

Look at how He led, how He loved, how he challenged people to live into their potential, how He spoke with truth and grace, how He followed through on all His promises, how He sacrificed, how He bowed low to lift us up.

Look at His followers.

Transformed. Willing to die for what they believed. Changing the world by sharing the hope they had. Their impact and influence continues to this day.

The true measure of leadership is influence, and influence gets results from a combination of these seven factors:

Character – who you are. True leadership begins with who you are on the inside. I’ve heard it said that charisma can get you in the door but character keeps you in the room. How are you developing your inner person?

Relationships – who you know. Being a leader means you have followers, and in order to have followers, you need to build relationships. Your effectiveness at building relationships speaks into your strength as a leader. How are you doing building relationships within your team?

Knowledge – what you know. Knowledge alone doesn’t make you a leader, but you definitely need it to become one. It’s important for a leader to have a handle on the facts, dynamics and a vision for the future. Don’t be a “know it all.” Spend a good amount of time doing your homework before you try to take the lead. Peyton Manning was a stellar example of preparation!

Intuition – what you feel. This is an ability to deal with the myriad of intangibles like energy, morale, timing and momentum. This is a hard one to teach but is so vital to recognize and influence these intangibles as a leader. If this isn’t as natural for you, what leader(s) do you admire and respect who you can learn from?

Experience – where you’ve been. The greater the challenges you have faced and come through in the past as a leader gives you an edge with your followers now. It doesn’t mean you have instant credibility, but they are more likely to give you a chance to prove yourself in the present. Be grateful for challenges that build deep things in your character and prepare you for what’s ahead. You will be a better leader for it!

Past success – what you’ve done. It takes time to build a track record of success. Keep stepping out of your comfort zone, take risks, learn and grow from the opportunities given to you and as you succeed, people will grow in their trust of your leadership ability.

Ability – what you can do. What you are capable of doing is extremely important for your followers. Can you lead your team to victory? That tends to be the bottom line for people to listen to and follow you as their leader. If you can’t deliver, they will look elsewhere. How are you continuing to challenge yourself and grow in your area of expertise? Remember, you never “arrive.” Keep developing yourself into the best leader and athlete you can be!


Rate yourself on the seven factors in the article on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 means it’s not a factor and 10 means you rely on it continually).

How can you better utilize the ones with low scores?

“Influence builders” from the mouth of Peyton Manning (Leadercast 2015)

1 – Intense preparation: Nothing can kill your influence like appearing unprepared or unknowledgeable. The time it takes to prepare will be well worth the investment.

2 – Earn respect: Take a step back and listen well. Listening will communicate a sincere care for the group and an understanding that there is still more to learn. Nothing goes further in earning respect than a humble willingness to learn from those around us.

3 – Invest in relationships: A leader cannot positively influence their team toward a goal without deep, trusting relationships. Trust within a group grows from a willingness of the leader to put in the work and genuinely serve others. Influence grows out of a heart of service.

4 – Build your network of mentors: Having a group of trusted advisors around you can help you keep proper perspective and encourage you when needed. We all need a mentor to help us see when we’re falling short and when we have great potential for influence that we many not see for ourselves.

To learn more about Amy’s one-on-one or group coaching for current athletes and athletes in transition, as well as her leadership training, go to www.amysnowcoaching.com.