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The Gift of Influence, A Powerful Path to Lead: A Q&A with author Tommy Spaulding

4 min read


This post is sponsored by Penguin Random House

Every interaction one has is an opportunity to make a positive impact. If you knew that every person you’d ever influenced would be waiting for you in a stadium at the end of your life, how would it affect your behavior today? Many, faces you know, the rest you barely recognize — you merely had some transactional relationship with them. How would that stadium react to your passing? Will they cheer to thank you for the positive influence you’ve had on their lives, remain silent, even worse jeer? Would this inspire you to lead, love, and treat others differently?

We chat with author Tommy Spaulding about his new book, The Gift of Influence.

Question: Who can most benefit from the message and take home value found in this book?

Answer: Short answer: everybody. That’s why I wrote this book. The first two books that I wrote, It’s Not Just Who You Know and The Heart Led Leader, I would put in the leadership and business category. But The Gift of Influence is for everyone. Everybody on this planet has the opportunity to influence the lives of others.


Q: Do great leaders come from a single mold?

A: There are two types of leaders in the world: self-serving leaders and servant leaders, or what I call “heart-led leaders”. For leaders who wake up every morning to serve others, influence is a part of their daily actions. Self-serving leaders tell people how they are going to lead them, but heart-led leaders lead others through their own actions.


Q: You state that leadership is not about influence — it is influence. It’s not telling people how great they are — it’s showing them. Can you elaborate?

A: Decades down the road, people will never say, “I just love how you led me,” or “I love the way she parented me.” They’ll say, “These people have had a great influence on my life.” Influence is your greatest legacy as leaders and as human beings.


Q: Learning the story of every employee is critical. You share the philosophy of Footers, a Denver-based catering company, in that it hires the individual, not the resume. Did this become more important during the Covid pandemic and The Great Resignation?

A: Hiring people today is harder than ever, but this has always been a challenge for corporate America. The way to keep good employees and build loyalty is to know their story. That’s something that Footers, and all heart-led leaders, do so well. Every  teammate in your company has a story. When we as leaders know their stories, we know how to love them and lead them in a more personal and connected way.

Q: You explain that people are willing to share their story if asked authentically. Powerfully changing someone’s life isn’t a complicated undertaking, it is making someone feel seen and heard. How can this be done?

A: In, It’s Not Just Who You Know, I talk about the five floors of relationships: the first floor is transactional, the second is news, sports, weather, the third where you start sharing more about yourself and creating more vulnerability. Vulnerability is contagious. When you’re vulnerable with someone, that gives the other person a safe environment to be vulnerable with you. Sometimes you have to model it first.

Picture going through life having small talk with everybody – it’s shallow. I really challenge readers to go deeper, share really personal things happening in your life, which gives others the space to share things happening in theirs. That’s when influence really begins.


Q: You stress the importance of being mindful of the words used when speaking to others. We live in hectic times and often speak thoughtlessly. Is this a mistake?

A: We have two ears and one mouth for a reason. It sounds trite, but if we’re speaking 16,000 words a day then we need to be hearing over 32,000 words. Truly listening is a great way to build influence within the lives of others.

Understanding the influence we have on the lives of others comes down to three questions: “Was I loved? Did I love back? Did I make a contribution?” Devoting yourself to a life of positive influence — lifting others when they are down, embracing them when they are cast off, and acting when they are in need, and the answer to these questions will be clear.

Learn more about The Gift of Influence, Creating Life-Changing and Lasting Impact in Your Everyday Interactions by Tommy Spaulding