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7 Questions on Leadership with Ruzanna Bezhanyan


Name:  Ruzanna Bezhanyan


Title: Founder and CEO


Organisation: Venonta LLC


Ruzanna Bezhanyan is a sustainable business development specialist, holding a Master's degree in Political Science and International Affairs. She is a graduate of Leadership School and a certified alumna of the Cambridge Business Sustainability Management course. Ruzanna is the founder of Venonta Consulting LLC, a firm dedicated to assisting companies in navigating the landscape of sustainable development and environmental, social, and governance practices across various sectors.


Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!


I hope Ruzanna's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Cheers,

Jonno White



1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?


Leading does not only come with privileges; it has its tough spots. For me, it is about walking that fine line between being approachable, reliable, and standing my ground. My challenges include embracing my role and responsibilities while staying friendly yet firm, and not downplaying the skills I have.


2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?


I am still on the journey to becoming a leader, and every day I remind myself that it's not just about the title, age, or years on the job. It's about the skills and qualities one brings to the table. Taking charge of a team, a colleague, or a project means continually upgrading oneself and guiding others to be their best. After founding Venonta LLC, I realized that I am now the person responsible for providing answers, making tough decisions, prioritizing, and managing resources. In every aspect of my work, I strive to continually improve myself, adding to my knowledge and skills. I actively seek mentorship and advice where needed, seeing it not as a threat but as an opportunity for growth. I am committed to becoming the best version of myself and sharing that knowledge when possible. Becoming a leader isn't a destination; it's an ongoing journey without a finish line.


3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?


My workday starts the evening before. I review my schedule for the next day, assessing the workload to ensure nothing crucial slips through the cracks. I prefer the traditional method of writing down tasks on paper, as it helps me capture all the important details. Blocking out timeslots on my calendar for both online and offline meetings provides a clear overview of my day, facilitating better planning. I aim to address the important, detail-oriented tasks and meetings before lunch whenever possible. This strategy allows me to reserve the second half of the day for reviewing and tying up loose ends, rather than initiating something new. I prioritize integrating routines without hyper-focusing on them, leaving room for flexibility.


4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?


I will share an eye-opening experience from a moment when I believed I had leadership figured out. While pursuing my master’s in International Affairs and Political Science, I enrolled in the 'Negotiation' course, which quickly became a favorite. The course was hands-on, involving practical exercises. During the initial exercise, a round of bilateral negotiations, my classmate and I had specific targets – identified minimum and maximum results for each of us by the end. After the first round, I confidently shared our results, thinking I had aced it with more than the required maximum, while my classmate barely met the minimum. To my surprise, the professor informed me that I had failed because I had solely focused on my own benefit. This served as a valuable lesson for me: success in leadership demands investment beyond personal gain. It's about fostering a two-way street of respect and trust for a genuine win-win.


5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?


Daniel Goleman's 'Emotional Intelligence' hit the nail on the head for me: it helped me understand myself before shouldering responsibilities for others. It's like laying the groundwork – knowing and understanding your own emotional landscape is the first step before navigating the world of responsibilities and surprises.


6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?


Confidence comes with competence. Invest in yourself, stay grounded, and remain humble, but don't let the fear of falling short overwhelm you. Enjoy the journey, and put into action what you have learned. Embrace your mistakes and weaknesses, and celebrate your victories. It's all part of the game


7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?


After completing my bachelor's degree, my first job was at a summer school where I taught various age groups. The private school was in its inaugural year, and during the initial month, children with vastly different levels of knowledge were grouped into one class. This situation presented the challenge of simultaneously engaging and maintaining the interest of children at different learning stages – from those just starting to learn the alphabet to others with advanced skills for their age. Given the constraints of limited resources and poor management, I took the initiative to redirect the syllabus and organize the classes appropriately. The goal was to teach each group according to their level without overshadowing the needs of others. Despite the considerable challenge, by the end, every child left content, sharing their positive experiences. The management, parents, and I were also satisfied. This experience taught me that you never know when, with whom, and under what circumstances you are going to work. However, that doesn't mean you should limit yourself with fear and an unhealthy comfort zone; on the contrary, embrace the chances to upgrade yourself.

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