Leadership is Influence

Editor’s note: The following is a guest blog post written by Leadership expert and consultant, Dr. Scott Starnes. His model is particularly timely in light of the upcoming Holy Week and Easter observances. Scott is a business acquaintance whom I respect. I was a participant in one of his recent leadership seminars and invited him to guest blog for me. I do not take part in affiliate marketing. 

During antiquity, people traveled by foot, often wearing sandals that would allow for the collection of dust onto the travelers’ feet. There were servants whose jobs were specifically to wash the feet of their masters before the masters entered their homes, or the homes of others. One person, Jesus, taught the concept of servant leadership by washing his followers’ feet during a feast. Afterwards, he explained that it was necessary to wash others’ feet as a symbolic act of leading them. In other words, to truly lead others, one must become a servant-leader.

John C. Maxwell, author of the best-selling book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, defined leadership as nothing more than influence. As leaders, we must understand that this influence is the basis upon which many of our relationships are built.

My question to you is, “What are you doing daily to influence the lives of others?” I believe that if we are to cultivate these relationships, we need to be keenly aware of others’ needs, and actively seek opportunities to serve them. The question behind the question in this scenario becomes,  “What are you doing daily to serve others who follow you?” Are you the type of leader who leads from the front, often dictating what, when and how something is to be done? Or, are you the leader who leads from the back or from the center of those who follow you, with a true servant’s heart?

These questions are not easy to answer, nor are they particularly what most people want to hear when thinking about being in a position of leadership. My suggestion is to identify and jot down the names of five to ten people whose lives you regularly influence. Then, identify three ways that you may add value to them each day over the next twenty-one days. In other words, make it a habit to add value to others every day. You are in the position to add tremendous value to their lives, but remember that it begins with service. If you find it difficult to jot down those names, you may have a challenge within you that needs to be addressed. However, if you can truly say that you serve those who follow you, you can be assured that you will continue to influence, or lead, them from a rock-solid foundation.

Dr. Scott Starnes


Dr. Scott Starnes is one of only 1700 certified John Maxwell coaches, speakers, and trainers worldwide. His passion is to provide real solutions to others by adding value to their lives while coaching and training them to lead others more effectively. If you would like more information about Scott, or how he can add value to you or your business, visit his website: http://www.johnmaxwellgroup.com/scottstarnes, or email him at scottstarnes [at] johnmaxwellgroup.com.



  • Jeff Brunson says:

    Scott, reading your post, I’m reminded of what a leader/colleague of mine, Ric Gonzalez, teaches; we manage processes and we lead people. I’ve never really met anyone who truly wants to be managed. All the best in your work as you show people leadership through service.

    • Jeff you are 100% correct. No one wants to be managed. We indeed manage processes. One of the quotes I often use was penned by Peter Drucker, “Managers do things right; Leaders do the right things.” I’ve heard this concept taken further by the founder of the John Maxwell team, whose name is Paul Martinelli. He frequently states that, “Leaders do the right things right, with the right awareness.” This is a phenomenal concept because when we do not bring the right awareness to the table, we can’t possibly be ready to make the right decisions. Thanks for your feedback!

  • Sue Painter says:

    The most successful businesses look upon their particular work as service. Thanks for sharing your views.

  • Bill Painter says:

    Funny how Corporate America has lots of managers, but feels that it needs to teach leadership. I find that most of the leaders I admire use service as a source for their leadership.

  • Linda Pucci says:

    I really like this exercise. I think it is a great way to be conscious of the ways you lead or influence others or could. Thanks, Scott for a very thought-provoking post.

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