To me the most influential leader is the one that leads by example.
I grew up as an athlete always participating in team sports and I always had this drive to be the team captain. Not because I wanted to be in charge, but because it appeared to be the summation of hard work and honour bestowed upon a team mate that earned it. Team sports are great for that because they put you next to other hard working individuals with a contagious unspoken leadership quality. Simply playing along side people like that made me want to try harder and be the best. This form of leadership I was exposed to motivated me to become just like them: A person who led by example.
My attitude of leadership has become embedded in my critical analysis of people in leadership roles. I don't care what they say, I care about what they do! Can they step up to the plate and lead by example? Who is the one willing to pick up the reigns?
When I used to teach Kung Fu I was surrounded by mentors that led by example but with a positive and inspirational energy. It changed my vision of leadership because I realized that great leaders instilled a fire in those that followed them, making them believe that they too can achieve what their leader has. Giving them hope, positivity, and faith in themselves.
I love to be the devils advocate. A leader can't be afraid to bet on the dark horse. Be a trailblazer. Take a risk... Don't be a yes man/woman. Don't drink the punch!