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Implementing a leadership model to drive performance

Interview with Dr. Igor Zonov, General Inspector at JSC Rosenergoatom 

How do you describe your role in global nuclear performance and safety?
I’m a manager of corporate Independent Nuclear Safety Oversight (INSO), and for the development and implementation of the leadership model in Rosenergoatom.

In 2017, my organisation made a decision to develop a leadership model adapted to our management system. I was involved, submitted my candidacy and was appointed the project manager for the development and implementation of the leadership model.

This project has become one of the most interesting projects in my entire professional life. As the project manager, I make sure that the leadership model comprises authoritative recommendations on leadership, and the best international and domestic practices - not only from nuclear energy, but also from other industries.

My role today is to support the implementation of the leadership model, as a tool for a constant pursuit of the highest safety standards and best performance practices. In regard to the global perspective of our company, these improvements contribute to the safety and performance of the world nuclear industry.

What techniques do you use to inspire and connect with people in your organisation?
We currently use training events, meetings and conferences. I would like to emphasise that we encourage and support not just managers. I personally and my team support all employees as well. It is an environment of openness and trust.

Based on these goals, I use a variety of techniques. Among others, during my visits to the plants, I always visit the places where I have been before, to see what has changed. We try to have frank discussions with the employees. Of all the available techniques I have told you about, I choose those that are applicable for the target audience and specific task.
What traits do you look for in leaders of your organisation?
I look for those leadership qualities and traits which are aimed at achieving the goals of the leadership model. The traits are as follows; willingness and ability to establish consistent and mutually supportive goals, willingness and ability to create and maintain an environment of openness and mutual support, to involve, encourage and develop employees, and finally a willingness and ability to support transparency in relations with stakeholders. Included in this is the desire to improve every time, and transfer the skills to other leaders and younger professionals.
What advice do you have for current and future leaders in nuclear organisations around the globe?
I would like to refer to an ancient saying from the Chukchi people, who live in North-eastern Russia, where the world's first floating nuclear power plant came online this year. They say: ‘If you want to go fast, you should go alone, if you want to go far, you should go as a team.’

No doubt, a real leader must be able to work both independently and in a team, but nevertheless, I believe that long-term success is more important for us. Therefore you should work as a team. And if we’re aiming at global success, and I’m sure that we are, our team must be globally oriented. As for the future leaders, I have a piece of advice and a team motto for them: ‘Do with us, do as we do, do better than us!’