Use the Power of Influence To Be a Better Manager

If you manage or lead a team, you have likely learned that you hold the potential to lead your team down a fulfilling path or down a laborious and bumpy road. Is there a certain leadership method that you can utilize to make sure that everyone on the team (including you!) feels good about their job and the product they are producing? Tracey Newell believes that influence is that secret ingredient to impactful leadership, and it doesn’t take much to harness the power of influence.

You can listen to this entire conversation with Tracey on our podcast, Work, Love, Pray! Listen below or click here to find your preferred listening platform.

What is the difference between “managing through influence” versus just “regular” managing of a team?

This is a very important question because people often confuse the two. We’ve all worked for many folks that were “the manager” and they made sure you knew it. They gave you a hundred things to do every day. There was a time where I was leading a sales organization and had a pretty big revenue number—hundreds of millions of dollars. I was working in government and the state of California had impeached the governor at the time and an order came through that no purchase order will come through that isn’t approved by the CIO for more than $50,000. I thought, ‘Gosh, how’s this going work?’ So I got really focused with a strategy and initiatives. I also got really into micromanaging, but despite that, I had a pretty good outcome considering where we were. 

But this idea of micromanaging only works for a while, because people do things for their reasons, not ours. If employees don’t feel like they have the freedom to innovate or drive change or be part of the solution, you’re going to lose folks. Influencing is really understanding what each individual wants to achieve, and how that aligns to what you (the leader) wants to achieve. Bringing everybody together with a common goal is where the magic starts to happen, because you get so much diversity in thought and once you get the flywheel going, you can’t slow it down.  

Is feedback a big “ingredient” in how influential you are on people? 

For sure. Sam Walton, the CEO of Walmart, has 10 rules of leadership that I learned. Quite a while ago when I heard him speak, he made the comment that more careers are ruined because their managers are afraid to give them honest feedback. And I think that’s so true. As a leader, you don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings. But not telling the truth is absolutely not helpful to that employee or to you.  

Get really good at saying, ‘I feel like we’re really doing well here, but I feel like we’re not doing as well here. How do you feel about that?’ Ask what you could do differently to help. Really try to get honest feedback from people about how you’re doing and be ready and willing to also give them honest feedback about where you’d like to see them improve.

Do you consider yourself a woman of influence?  

The short answer is ‘no.’ The imposter syndrome is alive and well! I’ll share another one of my favorite stories. When I was in my early thirties, I was in a job that I wanted to get out of. I wanted to do something different, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do. So I sat down with a mentor of mine and said, ‘I want to make a change and have more impact.’ My mentor literally started laughing at me and then she asked, ‘What does that mean, you want to have more impact? Do you want to be the head of janitorial services, because that’s an important job. Do you want to be the head of marketing? Do you want to run global sales?’

I was absolutely shocked at her response. I was working for a really big company at the time and I thought, how could I, as a 30 year old, run a big global company? Then my mentor gave me some really good advice that I’ve never forgotten. She said to play the long game. Get enough experience now so that in 10 or 15 years, I could take the job if I wanted it. Those words changed my career because I started to be more thoughtful while still living the life that I wanted from a family standpoint. I gave myself lots of different experiences so that I had those opportunities to move up when I was ready to do so on my own terms.

So no, I don’t consider myself a woman of influence. I’m still working on it. I’m doing board work now, which I really love because it’s helping companies to succeed. There’s always so much more we can all be doing. That’s kind of the fun part of life.

Specializing in accelerating go-to-market teams and top line revenue growth, Tracey Newell serves on the board of five high growth software companies, to include Sailpoint, Sumo Logic, Druve, Highspot and DataRobot. Tracey also serves as an advisor for Blackrock Long Term Private Capital.

Tracey is the former president of Informatica, where she served as a member of Informatica’s board of directors for two years, prior to being asked to join Informatica’s management team. As president of Informatica, Tracey was responsible for sales, marketing, revenue operations, and customer success.

Prior to joining Informatica, Tracey was EVP of global field operations at Proofpoint, where she led sales through a five-year period of hypergrowth from 96M to 700M. Recognized as a Top 100 Sales Leader by The Modern Sale, Tracey led Proofpoint’s go-to-market team to became a top five leader in the cybersecurity market. Before Proofpoint, Tracey was EVP of global sales at Polycom. She has also held sales leadership positions at Juniper Networks, Webex, and Cisco Systems. During her tenure at Cisco, Tracey was recognized by the organization Women Worth Watching.

From a philanthropic standpoint, Tracey is on the board of advisors for the University of California, Santa Barbara’s economic department, providing counsel on long term strategy for the department. Tracey has also served in non-profit organizations to include Impact 100, whose mission is to unite women to make a difference in our communities, as well as the National Charity League. Tracey graduated with honors from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and completed Stanford’s 26th Annual Directors College in June 2021.

Tracey is married to Vince Newell, together for 30+ years, and is blessed with two adult daughters, Megan (28) and Brittany (25).