Leadership is Influence – Nothing More, Nothing Less

“Leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less”

– John Maxwell

This is one of my favorite quotes from John Maxwell. It is simple, powerful, and gives me focus. How does it give me focus? Great question! As the CEO of Interstates, I influence people every day. Sometimes in a good way, and unfortunately sometimes is a poor way. At my best, I intentionally focus on three things: words, behavior, and attitude. I fail at those same three things when I am at my worst. To make this real, let’s go deeper.


I know the old sticks and stones saying is meant to help us, and we do have some responsibility in making sure that we can react appropriately to what others say to us or about us. Yet, words are more powerful than we realize. Sometimes we are purposeful and use words that are encouraging. For instance, when giving feedback or helping someone solve a problem. Other times, we don’t think about others or the situation and we use words casually or flippantly. This is when those words can leave a lasting, even scarring, impression on others.


Leading by example is a well-known and effective concept. People are always observing us, even if we don’t realize it. Watching to see if our audio (words) and video (actions) are in sync. The reason we all do this is because our actions give people a glimpse into our heart, which helps people to understand our character. For instance, do we treat people with respect and try to serve them to the best of our ability or treat people like they are here to serve us. I recently heard speaker and author, Todd Gongwer, discuss this idea at an event. He asked the audience who had heard of Bobby Knight as he is an Indiana native. Every hand in the room went up. Gongwer took it one step further and asked what specifically we remembered about him. The answers he received were all similar – the chair. No one mentioned his wins and championship. One poor decision, an action that lasted less than a minute, completely overshadows Bobby Knight’s successes.


Attitudes are like colds, they are contagious. As a leader or team member, our attitudes impact everyone around us. Say that aloud, “attitudes impact everyone.” Being purposeful about our attitudes is one of the best ways to set the tone for a meeting, project, family outing, or any number of situations. That’s because people will migrate towards that attitude; whether it’s positive or negative.

Every day we have an amazing opportunity in front of us. An opportunity to influence others through our words, actions, and attitude. In order to make the most of that opportunity, you can:

  • Use words of encouragement and gratitude to help others.
  • Show people your true heart through your actions.
  • Have a positive and contagious attitude.

Practicing these ideas on a daily basis is servant leadership and that is truly leading the Interstates way.


Keep leading the Interstates way!

This blog post was written by Scott Peterson.


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