The spectrum of influence
For all its gravitas, the word “influential” can be rather nebulous.
It is a word often bandied about by people who wish the term described them or applied to those whose relevance has faded over the years. Sometimes, the word connotes a sort of moral judgment – that influential people are “good” (another ambiguous word).
Perhaps it is best, then, to look at the word as representing a spectrum. Like “hard” and “soft” power, influence can manifest itself in bold and quiet ways.