Members from the LiveVox Black in Tech Community of Interest recently had a chance to sit down with CEO John DiLullo to discuss his views on leadership, career growth, and creating a more diverse and inclusive team.
In this exclusive Q&A, John shares the importance of always pushing yourself to grow and expand your boundaries: Leadership is not just about managing your team, he says. It also includes fostering an environment that encourages everyone to reach their full potential. John also spoke about the challenge of achieving true inclusion in the workplace and the importance of having honest conversations about bias and racial inequality to create more awareness and understanding.
Read on for a few highlights from the conversation.
Guiding Principles for Leadership Success
Q. Tell us about your leadership journey. What brought you here today?
A. I guess you could say it’s a calling. There are many ways to earn a living and keep a roof over your head. My father used to tell me the job you do for money will never pay you enough. And that has always been a truth of mine. Four pillars guide my career decisions and haven’t changed in about 20 years.
First, do you feel that your work is meaningful? It can be meaningful in a variety of ways, but do you also feel like you’re having an impact on others? If you think that it’s meaningful work and you’re able to make a difference, that’s a big anchor.
Second, to find satisfaction in my work, I must objectively understand what success looks like. I don’t want to be guessing whether or not I’m doing a good job. Did I achieve the objectives I set out to accomplish? Did I sell my quota? Did I fix my critical issues?
The third pillar is development and ensuring you are always in a position where you feel challenged and able to stretch and evolve. For example, when you start a new job where you’re not sure that you know what needs to be done, it can expose you to some risk and fear of failing, but it can also stimulate you to grow and learn.
And finally, are you having fun? It’s easy to lose motivation if you’re bored at work and just killing time. You can have an outage in one of these four pillars, but not for long. If you have an outage in two areas, it’s time to consider whether your job is what you want to do.
It’s essential to have meaningful work that you can objectively measure, be challenged to grow, and enjoy — all at the same time. It’s up to you to identify when these areas are missing and ensure your work aligns with your goals.
Connecting Values to Meaningful Work
Q. How do you connect the things you value and the meaning you find in your work?
A. For me, it’s very clear — how can I improve the lives of the people around me? That includes the people I work with, the people I work for, those that work for me, and also my family and friends.
Nowadays, everyone says being authentic is essential to success. That’s not something you can fake. Either you are genuine, or you are not. My idea of being authentic is really about helping people. Although I’m sure there are many things I could be doing to help people, my current role is where I think I can make the most significant impact for now.
You can find meaning in your work by connecting the values you hold dear with helping others — and embodying that authenticity is key to success.
Overcoming Fear by Embracing Challenges
Q. How can we transition from fear to excitement when stepping out of our comfort zones?
A. You need to face a little bit of fear every day to challenge yourself. I think you constantly have to pivot yourself to explore new situations and push your boundaries, even when it’s uncomfortable, whether in your work or your personal life.
Being in a developmental role at work and having a slight fear of failure will push you to be the best version of yourself. Because when you’re facing a new challenge, failure is an opportunity to learn rather than a sign of inadequacy. It may be difficult for you, but it will inspire you immensely.
Never stop pushing yourself. Be willing to take risks, challenge yourself, and put your ego on the line to grow as an individual. The real value comes from the stretch.
You can reach your fullest potential by facing your fear of failing and pushing yourself to step out of your comfort zone. Taking risks can help you discover a newfound strength and challenge you to become the best version of yourself.
Cultivating Cultural Awareness for Greater Inclusion and Leadership Success
Q. Having spent considerable time abroad, how has your experience contributed to how you perceive and appreciate cultural diversity?
A. I sincerely believe in a quote by Mark Twain: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime” (The Innocents Abroad).
That lifestyle choice and Twain’s observations have been an incredible source of inspiration for me. Some people prefer to live their entire lives within a few miles of their birthplace. That leads to very narrow thinking. And it seems like many people will pass up great opportunities because they prefer to stay within that comfort zone. It comes back to that notion of stretching — expanding your horizons so you can see and understand how others think and act.
History has proven that nations that open their borders, instead of closing them off, have become stronger and more successful over the long term. Diversity and inclusion are essential in building teams that will thrive in the workplace. By embracing different perspectives instead of rejecting them, teams are more creative and constantly developing, which leads to greater innovation and success.
By expanding your horizons and embracing different perspectives, you can learn to appreciate cultural diversity and develop a broader mindset that will help you to cultivate a more inclusive environment. This will help you achieve your leadership goals and build a more successful team.
Creating a More Equitable and Inclusive Future
Q. What are some of the challenges facing Blacks in the modern workforce, and what can company leaders do to overcome some of those challenges?
A. The challenges facing Blacks in the modern workforce are varied and complex. As a white person, I recognize that I can never truly appreciate those challenges. While I can never really walk a mile in the shoes of those impacted, I try to understand through exposure and education, and I believe that is the best way to start addressing them in our communities.
We need to strive for a more equitable and inclusive future, and while the U.S. has not necessarily been a leader in this regard, I believe we can get there with careful attention and dedication. Company leaders can help by providing opportunities for training and education, encouraging honest conversations about racial inequality and its impacts, and creating a more diverse and inclusive environment in the workplace.
We all have a part to play in making the world more equitable, and it starts with putting in the effort to make our workplaces inclusive. With these efforts, we can hopefully move toward a more utopian future.
Our leaders are responsible for fostering meaningful progress toward diversity, equity, and inclusion by creating work environments where everyone feels welcome and heard. By aiming for true inclusion, we can create a better world for everyone.
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