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7 Questions on Leadership with Vitaly Philippov

Name: Vitaly Philippov

Title: Project Manager

Oranisation: Zeal Group

Vitaly is an expert in project and product management and is focused on the formation and development of human capital and teams in these and related processes. Practical, more than 15 years, experience was gained in such areas and industries as IT, FinTech as well as Retail and Petroleum products.

Many years of successful practice of working with various approaches, environments, teams, technologies with a focus on human nature and emotions organically led to an interest in aspects of leadership and human relationships in organizations and a focus on development in this direction.

As a human being - just a family man and tennis player who loves nature but still trying to understand human nature.

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

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


Jonno White

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

Human relationships. Just as they were complex many centuries ago, to this day they remain for me a mystery that can be solved forever, but that is its charm.

Whatever the environment the leader is in, the entire basis of approaches, processes, adaptations and improvements that we plan at any given time is based on human relationships.

Understanding the nuances and invisible complexities of such relationships has typically, in my practice, required the highest levels of insight, empathy, and even intuition. Correct conclusions and identification of potential risks were usually rewarded with more effective implementation of approaches and processes that made it possible to successfully overcome difficulties and achieve goals.

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

In general, it was my managerial activities and roles, as well as my interest in analyzing the relationships between groups of people, that led to the need to develop leadership in myself.

I have seen more than once how connections between groups of people weaken and how difficult it is for groups to develop further in the absence of a leader or a weak leadership position.

In my case, it was not just the desire to be a leader, but rather responsibility for other people that organically developed inside me into the need to be one.

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

Usually I don`t set myself the task of performing routine activities the same way every day, rather on the contrary I am interested in adapting to what the new day will bring me. If this is a series of ad-hoc meetings or activities that are needed, important and useful, I’m glad about it.

However, my day can be divided into three stages:

- the first stage is gaining new knowledge: I read the news and posts on professional social networks, and if I have time, I take a book and get myself to read a few pages over a mug of coffee;

- the second stage is operational activities that are associated with interaction with people and processes on work projects and issues. Among them, if time allows, I try to find a little time to study further - I am constantly learning something new, be it courses, techniques or practices.

- the third stage is after work time that I use for physical activity. Most often it is playing tennis, swimming or just walking. I believe that this stage cannot be neglected.

The rest of my free time I spend with my family.

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

It is worth recalling how much the personal definition of Leadership varies for everyone.

For me personally, the most important lesson briefly is this: leadership begins in ourselves but ends in others.

It is the leader who should empower and inspire other people to achieve great deeds, and it is they, and not you, who will be praised later.

The lesson is that once I started to forget about this and my own ego became dominate me, my actions and decisions became irrational and directed inward rather than outward. It's important not to forget this.

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?

Without a doubt - The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene.

For me, this is a handbook for every aspiring manager and leader, which I would advise everybody to read and be guided not only in your work but life in general.

The book helped me confirm my intuitive feelings about the full diversity of human relationships, including how invaluable leadership is when it is used for good.

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

From youth to maturity, we each move along our own path. For some, the road is straight and seems simple, for others it is long and thorny.

We are the experiences we have gone through mixed with our feelings and emotions. I would advise you to implement and be guided by the following simple approaches rather than giving any specific advice:

- question actions and information, separating your own and external emotions

- put yourself on the other person's side

- don't stop learning

The first two filters will allow you to better understand other people and yourself, making more rational decisions. New knowledge gained from constantly studying something new will be used twice more efficiently, adding to your experience characteristic of true leaders.

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

A short and meaningful story that I use for myself as a lesson learned.

One large retail company tried to launch one big project. It is interesting that for a long time this could not be done because the three main stakeholders were hostile towards each other and equal in power.

Each of the stakeholders considered themselves as a main leader and tried to use the project and project manager for their own purposes.

As a result, the project was launched only when the project manager himself became a leader and reconciled the hostile parties.

Another lesson and story of how important it is to have a true leader who always remains impartial and directs its energies towards common high goals.

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