February 17, 2023

LiveVox’s Women in Tech Coffee Chat: CEO John DiLullo on Diversity in Tech, Leadership, Industry Trends, and Change

Share this story

LiveVox’s Women in Tech Coffee Chat: CEO John DiLullo on Diversity in Tech, Leadership, Industry Trends, and Change

Members from the LiveVox Women in Tech (WIT) Community of Interest recently hosted a virtual Coffee Chat to welcome new CEO John DiLullo. In a candid conversation with WIT, John shares his thoughts on fostering gender equality in the workplace. He also talks about what makes an effective leader, trends impacting the contact center industry, and how to lead through periods of transition.

Here are a few highlights from the conversation.

Creating an Equitable, Diverse Workforce

Q. How can leadership foster a welcoming environment that encourages and supports recruiting, retention, and advancement of women in the technical field?

A. Well, I hope we continue to hire the best people for the roles irrespective of age, gender, race, culture, religion, abilities and disabilities, and sexual orientation. But specific to gender, the tech industry, in general, has done many things in the past that have discouraged the best women from finding interest in the roles. Some of them include antiquated workplace environments and behavior, not being supportive of equal pay, and not providing ample flex time and workplace flexibility. Also, building career tracks that favor one gender over another. Often, a rotational assignment track may be sexist and biased in its creation and doesn’t support the development of those different individuals.

First, we need to eliminate all that and ensure everyone is on a level playing field and that we’ve built an equally appealing infrastructure for men, women, and others. That’s no easy task. Right now, many companies have single-digit percentages of women in tech. You want to be in a more balanced environment. So we will have to continue to be very disciplined about creating diverse teams.

That extends to age, too. If everybody in the company is 54, you will have difficulty attracting 33-year-olds to the business. It’s diversity at all levels and leaning in. Sheryl Sandberg wrote in her book, “Lean In” [Women, Work, and the Will to Lead], that paying lip service is not enough. We will need to lean in and take meaningful action to advance diversity.

My favorite example of this is the U.S. space shuttle program. Without exception, the more diverse the crew, the more productive the mission. At the end of the day, it’s about groupthink versus having different points of view and challenging each other’s thinking. That is very hard to do if everybody is a 54-year-old white male. You think a certain way. Diverse teams are generally more productive, higher impact teams.

Everybody now recognizes that diversity is good business. This is the real world, and we must do much more there.

What People Really Want from Leaders

Q. If you were to write a book on leadership, what would you want the tagline or quote to be about your leadership style?

A. Many people get into leadership roles for all the wrong reasons, whether it’s because of ego, wanting to make more money, or craving power. There are so many wrong reasons to be in leadership.

I attended a seminar at the London Business School about 20 years ago called “Why Should Anyone Be Led by You?,” which was later published as a book by Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones. This has become a fixation for me: Why should anyone be led by you? It’s not because you had the proper schooling or you are an ENTJ in Myers-Briggs. That’s not why people should be leaders. 

Goffee and Jones take a different view, based on their research, which found that the reasons why someone wants to be in a leadership role differ vastly from why people respond well to certain managers. Think about that. Most people who enter a leadership role have different motivations than what their teams say is essential to being an effective leader. 

In reality, it’s not about the ability to craft a vision, be communication-oriented, embracing, or authentic. Those things are important, but that’s not what people say makes great leaders. Instead, Goffee and Jones say there are a few things a leader must be able to do according to the people they lead.

One is to be able to collect and filter data. Like an oyster that filters gallons of seawater daily to collect the nutrients it needs, good leaders have a very high capacity for listening and collecting soft data. 

People also want their leaders to expose their vulnerabilities selectively. You hear authenticity talked about a lot — sharing your weaknesses, quirks, idiosyncrasies, and being human like everybody else. That’s important.

Deep empathy is another crucial leadership trait. You don’t just care because you know you’re supposed to care. You care because you care. It’s intrinsic. People know when they really care about something, and the people around them know when they really care about it, too. Goffee and Jones conveyed it’s better not to do something you don’t truly care about. Just do what you genuinely care about, and that’s what people will admire.

And last is people like leaders who make things happen. Reflect on the leaders and people in your life; there’s always someone who will make a party even more lively when you invite them. Leadership is the same way. You know that inviting someone into the role will bring more progress and productivity to your company. And people love that.

Why should anyone be led by you? Embrace that question. That is what I would ask of anyone before they jump into a leadership role because you need to be doing it for the right reasons. If you’re not really committed to what your people want — not what you want, but what people want of their leaders — you will struggle.

Automation and the Move to the Cloud

A. The major changes taking place: First, nobody wants a data center. In my younger days, calling on CIOs, they would always end the meeting by inviting me to see their data center. And we’d go into the glass room, and they’d tell me how many cores, how many MIPS, and how many BTUs of cooling and power and raised floors and plenum wire shields… They were so excited about their data centers. 

If you talk to a CIO or CTO today, they’re embarrassed if they have a data center. All that stuff is passé. The movement to the cloud is an uber trend, and LiveVox is very tightly connected to that progression.

Another noteworthy trend is that we have — and will continue to have — a dire shortage of workers over the next 10 years in tech. There are 2 million or 3 million open tech jobs right now. And the alignment — most of the U.S. jobs posted on Monster, Indeed, or other career sites that are over $100K earning jobs include the word “code” because there’s such a tight association with software.

These are just some of the macro trends. Our product reduces the need for our customers to have many people sitting next to a telephone or answering inbound chats. Technologies that make people more productive are going to be very important. 

So automation and movement to the cloud will continue to be significant trends. Those are two areas we play front and center in, and it’s two of the main reasons I joined LiveVox because the company is in key demographic, explosively growing areas.

It’s not just the shortage of tech workers in the U.S. Countries such as China, which has provided a lot of tech workers, and many European nations are experiencing negative population growth. As the workforce shrinks, filling vacant positions is becoming increasingly difficult.

Harnessing AI to Solve Worker Shortage Issues

Q. You’ve talked before about how AI will change the workplace. Can you expand a little bit on that?

A. It ties back to this worker shortage problem. We need to do what we can to augment knowledge workers, which we’re in scarce supply of — and the number of college graduates is decreasing, which means we are not producing enough qualified individuals for the job market. 

The labor shortage is rampant, so technologies like AI and machine learning will become increasingly important. For example, my last company, Forcepoint, provided security operation center automation and threat detection. We found that the average enterprise customer gets 10,000 security alerts per day. They have to figure out which ones to give the 100 people managing their security. Which ones should they work on? That’s an artificial intelligence use case. 

How to prioritize alerts is not so different from a contact center’s need to prioritize calls or inbound or outbound traffic. How do we ensure that our people always do the highest impact work? Ultimately, it boils down to productivity and anything that can reduce the tedious work.

AI doesn’t get tired. It doesn’t have a bad day. It doesn’t see things that aren’t there. It can make mistakes, just like any other technology. But, fortunately, it is starting to help humans do better work.

Embrace Change and Foster Growth

Q. What advice do you have on leading change and instilling confidence in our teams?

A. Change is a constant, and good leadership should constantly be driving change. The world around us is continually changing, so you need to change to adapt. Environments that evolve quickly and where there is a lot of change tend to be more robust, flexible, and adaptable. Those where there is less change, less so.

I would ask my team to embrace it. Before you dismiss the change, take some time to understand it in detail. Suppose team members question it or don’t think it’s a good thing to embark on. Then that’s a sign I didn’t spend enough time educating people about why we’re doing it. 

Change is an opportunity to build muscle, become more adaptable, learn how to do new things, to stretch in new ways.

Keep Up-To-Date on the Latest Contact Center News

Subscribe to our newsletter and stay current on all the latest technological advances in the contact center space.

About LiveVox

LiveVox (Nasdaq: LVOX) is a proven cloud CCaaS platform that helps business leaders redefine customer engagement and transform their contact center’s performance. Decision-makers use LiveVox to improve customer experience, boost agent productivity, empower their managers, and enhance their system orchestration capabilities. Everything needed to deliver game-changing results can be seamlessly integrated and configured to maximize your success: Omnichannel Communications, AI, a Contact Center CRM, and Workforce Engagement Management tools.

For more than 20 years, clients of all sizes and industries have trusted LiveVox’s scalable and reliable cloud platform to power billions of omnichannel interactions every year. LiveVox is headquartered in San Francisco, with international offices in Medellin, Colombia and Bangalore, India.

To stay up to date with everything LiveVox, follow us @LiveVox, visit www.livevox.com or call one of our specialists at (844) 207-6663.

You May Also Like