Margarita Volovikova is a well-reputed executive consultant who provides professional advice to individuals, business owners, and CEOs.
You recently moved to Dubai. Why did you make this decision? Why did you choose this city?
I love big cities. I love that city life goes on around-the-clock. I can feel the flow of life moving through me. A few years ago, I was working on a project and lived in Dubai for about a year. The city really took my heart, but we never considered moving then. When the war came to my homeland a year ago, my family and I had to move.
At first, we could not decide where to go, but this fall we moved to Dubai. You can find everything you need here for a well-balanced personal and professional life.
Another important issue for my family is security. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are among the five safest cities in the world, and it really feels like it. This is probably the only city in the world where I can walk down the street in the middle of the night and be absolutely safe. The whole city is built to ensure a comfortable life. The streets are clean, and the service is top of the line.
Of course, moving is always hard. It takes time to set daily routines, get your kids matriculated into school, adjust to local laws and regulations, and integrate your new work schedule into your personal one. But I think we did a great job. The other day, my friend and I were even saying that this city has spoiled us a bit. It’s hard to imagine living somewhere else after the tremendous comfort we’ve experienced in Dubai.
You bring inspiration to other people’s lives and businesses. What drives you?
My main source of strength and inspiration is learning. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t studying something new. Usually, before I finish a course, I’ll already be preparing for the next. This is what makes me grow. I don’t only study academics. I will study absolutely anything – business education, psychology, finance, political science, public administration, speed reading, esotericism, human design, and so on – absolutely everything that falls within the circle of my interests.
However, I do not collect diplomas. I am interested in the knowledge itself. And if the course turns out to be uninteresting and useless, I quit. No regrets. Right now, in Dubai, I study
organizational psychology and people’s behavioral patterns in the workplace. This is my preferred specialization. I have been studying and researching business psychology for many years, dealing with the complex issues that arise in business.
Let’s get to your business. What is your approach to consulting?
Any business structure is a kind of living body. Like any living organism, it requires adequate caretaking, properly functioning biological processes, and regular detoxes. No matter how much cooperation and success there is between the management team and their employees, the company owner and CEO often aren’t aware of the processes happening inside their own business. When losses and errors occur, they tend to blame anybody but themselves.
Every company owner dreams of employees that are passionate about their work, people who consider the company their own and treat it with full dedication and love. But what will make their employees unhappy, and what will make them feel motivated? The answer remains unknown, and the question is not even asked.
A company’s relationship with its staff is usually a mess. Each employee has their own background and beliefs and they eventually stray from the company’s mission. This can be caused by anything – from personal problems to dissatisfaction with the working conditions.
How do I keep them interested? How do I improve and maintain their performance? I often hear these questions from management teams on all corporate levels. Why are my employees so lazy? How do I make them work? Why are they engaged in arguing and competing with each other instead of getting results? Business psychologists work to solve these kinds of issues.
Generally, that’s where I also step in.
To be frank, I am very distrustful of surface-level consultations. They’ll address issues without diving deep into the company’s structure. It’s like if a person comes to the doctor and complains of pain in some part of the body, and the doctor says, “Well, I once had a patient with similar pain, and their problem was with their liver. So, I think you have the same problem. Here’s the drug, treat your liver!” But there can be a huge variety of causes, with more than a dozen ways to treat each. If you don’t take the time to analyze the individual’s specific issue, it is impossible to make an accurate diagnosis. The same is true for a business.
There can be many reasons for a company’s poor performance and low productivity levels. Most of the time, they are not at all obvious. You need to study its inner workings in order to understand what’s going wrong and how to fix it. Sometimes you can treat it with diet and exercise. Sometimes, you have to use an antibiotic. And sometimes surgery is the only option. I aim to address the complex problems within the company’s internal organization. In general, business really comes down to one thing – the people.
When you understand what motivates a person, what motivates their work in general, and what is happening in their world, you can learn how to persuade and redirect them in a friendly way. By giving the employee what they need, the company can also get what it needs.
Using an individualized approach to increase each person’s potential is what leads to maximum results. Of course, there are cases when “amputation” is required, like when it’s obvious that a person is not in the right place. In this situation, not only are they not suitable for the company, but the company might not be suitable for them.
I identify the potential of everyone and guide them along the right path.
About 7 years ago, when I was busy recruiting staff, I thought about how challenging it is to find competent people. You need employees who not only have the necessary technical skills but are also adept communicators. Since researching these issues, I have become increasingly convinced that almost everyone has something to give to the company. You just need to discover and understand an employee’s personality type. And then, all you have to do is find where this personality would fit best. This works without fail.
That said, I always say that even the most skilled, knowledgeable manager cannot deal with both the operational side of things and the company’s internal affairs.
Employees are not the only ones affected by conflict. It also affects founders, partners, competitors, etc. Problems in higher-level teams have a greater impact on the company and are more damaging. Creating the right troubleshooting algorithms should be a top priority.
What benefits can a business consultant bring to a company and its leaders? Can you specify it?
Executive consulting has the power to transform your business and leadership. At its core, it’s all about listening, active support, and gentle guidance – something which most leaders don’t have but desperately need. A good coach can help you discover what’s holding your business back and how you can face those challenges head-on. A coach can help leaders increase their confidence, create effective teams by building trustworthy relationships, gain a different perspective, set goals, make decisions, and be held accountable. Likewise, the organization as a whole will benefit from coaching intervention, receiving improved employee morale, clearer direction, and better, more cohesive leadership.