What do race car drivers and solution engineers have in common?
Paula Morton, VP of Sales Engineering at LiveVox and vintage motorsport aficionado, can explain the overlap pretty eloquently.
Like any race driver worth their salt, the people in the driver’s seat of a software company need the technical chops required to keep control at high speeds. That means knowing how to take corners like you’re on rails, how to use your competitors’ slipstreams to your advantage, and how to brake and accelerate with split second decision making and zero (okay, maybe minimal) perspiration.
In the ever-evolving landscape of technology, scaling a company requires more than just innovative products and solutions. It demands effective leadership that fosters a diverse and inclusive work environment, bridges gaps between teams, encourages continuous learning, and promotes a culture of innovation. LiveVox, a leading provider of cloud contact center solutions, recognizes the importance of these aspects and has found a champion in Paula Morton. With her unique perspectives and experiences as a female leader in the technology space and with 20+ years at the wheel in her rearview, Paula brings a wealth of knowledge and skills to the table.
In our latest Executive Perspective, we sat down with Paula to gather her insights and strategies for how she plans to scale product, people, and potential within LiveVox. Below are excerpts from the interview.
On fostering a diverse and inclusive work environment
I understand the value of diversity and inclusivity in the workplace and have put some practices into play over the years to make sure different perspectives are elevated across my team.
I think that truly empathizing and listening to the people around you and not operating from a fixed mindset helps me elevate others. Whether we’re aware of it or not, we’re being shaped and changed by the people we spend the most time with, and we spend a lot of time at work. It’s important for me to lead by example because I strive to create realistic role models within LiveVox by embodying these qualities and demonstrating integrity, resilience, perseverance, and empathy. By recognizing and celebrating the unique abilities of my teams and my colleagues, I I’m able to establish an environment where everyone can maximize their contributions. I believe that creating a diverse and inclusive work environment is not only morally right but also essential for driving innovation and fostering a positive company culture.
Managing the blend line between technical and non-technical teams
When you’re managing a team of technical folks but interacting with non-technical teams, there’s also a blend line to mind. Building and leading a successful technical sales team requires effective communication and collaboration across different departments. My approach to blending the line and heading off or overcoming challenges between the technical team and non-technical teams, such as sales and marketing, revolves around building trust.
By holding myself accountable first, delivering results, and communicating openly, I establish a foundation of trust within my organization and the people I work with. This is why I so strongly emphasize the importance of aligning objectives with the customer’s needs and explaining the “why” behind decisions I make. This approach fosters consensus and collaboration across teams. That said, I do acknowledge that conflict is inevitable and that mistakes will occur. However, I also believe that how well these challenges are handled determines the strength of partnerships and trust. By embracing conflict and using it as an opportunity for growth – thinking about it as that blend line that makes sure everyone is getting their turn, going at their speed, and moving in the same direction on the same course– I ensure that the team remains focused on its goals while maintaining a supportive and collaborative work environment.
On encouraging continuous learning and professional development to help everyone across the finish line
I’m a big proponent of encouraging a culture of curiosity and self-driven learning, where individuals take ownership of their professional growth. It’s been my experience that the most skilled professionals are not necessarily born with innate talent but have worked hard to master their craft. By studying, researching, and pushing oneself to acquire new skills, I think it’s possible for anyone to adapt to changing technology trends and better serve LiveVox’s clients.
Knowledge sharing and supporting each other within the technical community are also vital for fostering innovation and growth. I set high standards for myself and my team, constantly reinforcing the importance of stretching to learn something new and prepare for the next challenge. We offer a range of self-guided and even group learning opportunities at LiveVox. Through these initiatives, LiveVox prioritizes the development of technical skills and the pursuit of industry trends.
On prioritizing work and maintaining quality deliverables
Managing multiple projects with different priorities and deadlines can be challenging, that’s a given and a reality for anyone in the corporate world. I tackle this challenge by focusing on what can be controlled and striving for incremental progress rather than perfection. Aligning tasks with the organization’s strategic objectives and considering their impact on customer success play a vital role in my prioritization.
Easier said than done, but here’s how I go about it. My approach is to assess conflicting goals based on their alignment with LiveVox’s objectives and their impact on customers’ outcomes. By reminding myself to focus on controllable factors and embracing the concept of incremental progress, I’m able to keep the team on track without compromising the quality of our deliverables. Taking a systematic approach to task management helps, too. I encourage my team to eat the elephant one bite at a time, breaking down complex projects into manageable tasks. This methodology allows them to maintain focus, meet deadlines, and consistently deliver high-quality results.
On fostering a culture of innovation
Innovation, but also gumption, are crucial for driving growth and staying ahead of the competition. I believe that creating a culture of innovation starts with trust and a safe space for taking risks and failing. By aligning the team’s core values with customer-driven thinking, I have throughout my career and now especially at LiveVox encouraged my team and my colleagues to constantly look for opportunities to not just meet customer needs, but rise to the occasion.
A shared understanding of individual and collective success fosters accountability and empowers team members to bring forward new ideas and solutions. Now, I understand that not every idea will be perfect, but I value the effort, judgment, and commitment of my team members who speak up and share their perspectives. By creating an environment where it is safe to speak your mind and encouraging authenticity, I believe a leader can incubate the flow of innovative ideas. In my opinion, innovation and creativity are byproducts of a strong commitment to purpose, a defined “why,” and a culture of respect and trust. With these principles in place, I plan to cultivate an atmosphere where my team feels empowered to think outside the box, challenge the status quo, and contribute to the company’s, and our customer’s, overall success.