What is the effect of the combined direct and indirect social influences-peer pressure (PP)-on a social group's collective decisions? We present a model that captures PP as a function of the socio-cultural distance between individuals in a social group. Using this model and empirical data from 15 real-world social networks we found that the PP level determines how fast a social group reaches consensus. More importantly, the levels of PP determine the leaders who can achieve full control of their social groups. PP can overcome barriers imposed upon a consensus by the existence of tightly connected communities with local leaders or the existence of leaders with poor cohesiveness of opinions. A moderate level of PP is also necessary to explain the rate at which innovations diffuse through a variety of social groups.