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7 Questions on Leadership with Maged Elnaggar

Name: Maged Elnaggar

Title: CEO Retail & Entertainment

Organisation: MAG Enterprises

Over two decades of experience in the Leisure, Retail, Amusement/Theme Parks Commercial Retail, and Retail Entertainment industries.

- Strong Business/Project Development, Operations, Sales, and Marketing skillset.

- Held leadership roles including CEO of Retail & Entertainment at HWADI Group, CEO of Retail & Entertainment at Ajlan & Bros Holding Group, CEO of Fawaz Al Hokair Leisure & Entertainment, Board member of MARAKEZ (Egypt), Governor of KidZania Jeddah, and GM of Al Othaim Leisure & Tourism.

- Co-Founded MAG Enterprises, PlayPoint Dubai, and PlayPoint Egypt.

- Successfully conceptualized and led the development and operation of multiple entertainment brands including KidZania Jeddah, Billy Beez, OCTO FEC, MAHARA Karting, XATION, MAHARA Adventure Park, Safforiland, Snow City, Faby Land, My Town, Extreme Land, Extreme Zone, Splash Island, Action Zone, and PlayPoint.

- Experienced strategic growth consultant, spearheading expansion plans and launching projects across the entire Middle East region.

- Well-positioned to contribute expertise and drive growth in new ventures within the Retail, Amusement and Entertainment industry. Furthermore, my industry-leading awards in the GCC region attest to my expertise and success in these fields.

I am confident that my experience and skills would be an asset to any individual or organization seeking to enter or expand within these dynamic industries.

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

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


Jonno White

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

As a leader, one of the most challenging aspects I have encountered is balancing the needs and expectations of my team members. Each individual comes with their unique strengths, weaknesses, and aspirations. It can be demanding to ensure that everyone feels supported, motivated, and engaged while striving to achieve common goals.

Additionally, navigating through conflicts and difficult decisions is also a significant challenge. As a leader, I am responsible for making tough choices that may not always be popular but are necessary for the greater good of the team and the organization. This requires a delicate balance between being empathetic and decisive.

Moreover, another prominent challenge is adapting to change and maintaining resilience during uncertain times. The business landscape is ever-evolving, and as a leader, I need to continuously stay adaptable and guide my team through uncharted territories, which can be both daunting and invigorating.

Overall, these challenges have provided valuable learning experiences and opportunities for growth as a leader, enabling me to develop and refine my leadership style over time.

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

My journey to becoming a leader started with a strong desire to make a positive impact and contribute to the success of the team and organization I was a part of. From early on in my career, I demonstrated a willingness to take initiative, assume additional responsibilities, and seek opportunities for growth and learning.

As I gained experience and expertise in my field, I actively sought out leadership roles, even in informal settings. I volunteered to lead projects, mentor colleagues, and coordinate team efforts. These experiences allowed me to develop crucial leadership skills such as communication, problem-solving, and decision-making.

Additionally, I invested time in continuous learning and development, attending leadership workshops, reading relevant literature, and seeking advice from seasoned leaders. This helped me gain a deeper understanding of different leadership styles and approaches, enabling me to refine my own leadership philosophy.

Furthermore, I believe in leading by example and fostering a collaborative and supportive work environment. By empowering and encouraging my team members to excel, I found that their success directly contributed to my growth as a leader. Over time, my dedication, hard work, and ability to inspire and motivate others led to formal leadership opportunities within the organization.

I was entrusted with greater responsibilities, and I was ready to take on the challenge. Today, I continue to embrace leadership as a journey of constant growth and improvement. I remain open to feedback, value the diverse perspectives of my team members, and strive to adapt my leadership approach based on the specific needs of each situation.

Ultimately, becoming a leader has been a rewarding experience, and I am committed to making a positive difference in the lives of those around me through effective and compassionate leadership.

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

As a leader, I believe that structuring my work days thoughtfully is crucial for maximizing productivity, fostering a positive work environment, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Here's how I typically structure my work days:

1. Early Start: I begin my day with an early wake-up, allowing me to have some quiet time for personal reflection and planning. This helps set a positive and focused mindset for the day ahead.

2. Morning Routine: I engage in a consistent morning routine that may involve as much as I can meditation, exercise, or reading. This routine helps me center myself and prepare mentally and physically for the challenges ahead.

3. Priority Setting: Before diving into work tasks, I take some time to review and prioritize my responsibilities for the day. I identify the most critical tasks and set clear goals to accomplish them.

4. Team Interaction: I make an effort to touch base with my team members in the morning. This may involve a brief team meeting or individual check-ins to ensure everyone is aligned and has the necessary support.

5. Focus on High-Impact Tasks: As a leader, I often have critical strategic responsibilities. Therefore, I allocate the early part of the day to focus on high-impact tasks that require my undivided attention and creative thinking.

6. Delegation and Empowerment: I delegate tasks to team members based on their strengths and expertise. Delegation not only empowers them but also allows me to focus on strategic decision-making and leadership responsibilities.

7. Continuous Learning: I believe in lifelong learning as a leader. Throughout the day, I allocate time to stay informed about industry trends, attend relevant webinars or workshops, and read insightful articles or books.

8. Collaboration and Communication: I maintain open communication channels with my team and other stakeholders. Regular meetings and check-ins enable me to provide guidance, address concerns, and promote a collaborative work culture.

9. Lunch Break: I make it a point to take a proper lunch break away from my desk. Stepping away helps me recharge and fosters a healthy work-life balance.

10. Afternoon Tasks and Feedback: In the afternoon, I focus on completing outstanding tasks and providing feedback on ongoing projects. I aim to offer constructive feedback and encouragement to keep the team motivated.

11. Wrap-up and Planning: Towards the end of the workday, I review the progress made, update task lists, and plan for the next day. This helps me feel organized and ready to hit the ground running the following morning.

12. Time for Personal Interests: After work, I ensure I have time for personal interests, hobbies, and spending quality time with family and friends. This helps me rejuvenate and maintain a healthy work-life integration.

13. Adequate Rest: Finally, I prioritize getting enough restful sleep to ensure I am mentally and physically prepared for the challenges of the next day.

Flexibility is also essential as a leader, as unexpected situations may arise. While I follow this general structure, I remain adaptable to handle urgent matters and support my team effectively.

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

A recent leadership lesson I've been reminded of is the power of active listening. While I have always recognized the importance of listening to my team members and stakeholders, a recent experience emphasized just how impactful it can be.

During a team meeting, I noticed that one of my team members seemed hesitant to share their ideas. After the meeting, I approached them privately to understand their perspective better. I actively listened without interrupting, providing them with a safe space to express their thoughts and concerns.

As they opened up, I realized that they had valuable insights and innovative ideas, but they were unsure about sharing them due to a fear of being dismissed or judged. By actively listening and showing genuine interest in what they had to say, I was able to instill confidence and encourage them to contribute more openly.

This experience reminded me that leadership is not just about giving instructions or making decisions but also about empowering and supporting others. As a leader, actively listening to my team members fosters trust, enhances collaboration, and enables me to tap into their diverse skills and perspectives.

It also helps create a culture where everyone feels valued and encouraged to share their ideas. Moving forward, I plan to integrate this lesson into my daily leadership practices. I will continue to be attentive to my team's needs, actively seek their input, and provide them with the necessary support to thrive both personally and professionally.

Active listening has proven to be a powerful tool in enhancing team dynamics and driving success, and I am committed to making it a core aspect of my leadership approach.

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?

One book that has had a profound impact on my leadership is "Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us" by Daniel H. Pink. This book explores the science behind human motivation and presents a fresh perspective on what drives individuals to excel in their work and personal pursuits.

The book challenged my traditional understanding of motivation, which had often been linked to external rewards or punishments. "Drive" introduced me to the concept of intrinsic motivation—the desire to do something for the inherent satisfaction and fulfillment it brings. According to Pink, autonomy, mastery, and purpose are the three key elements that fuel intrinsic motivation.

As a leader, this book significantly influenced my approach to motivating and empowering my team. I realized that fostering an environment that supports autonomy—giving individuals the freedom to make choices and decisions within their roles—can be a powerful driver of engagement and creativity.

Furthermore, the idea of encouraging mastery—the pursuit of continuous learning and improvement—led me to prioritize professional development opportunities for my team members. I recognized the importance of helping them grow their skills and expertise to not only benefit the organization but also enhance their personal satisfaction and sense of achievement.

Additionally, the book emphasized the significance of having a clear sense of purpose in our work. As a leader, I found it essential to communicate the larger mission and vision of our team or organization, so each team member could connect their efforts to a higher purpose, beyond just the day-to-day tasks. Implementing the principles from "Drive" has had a positive impact on my team's performance and overall satisfaction. By nurturing intrinsic motivation,

I noticed increased enthusiasm, creativity, and a willingness to go the extra mile to achieve our goals. Moreover, this book has influenced my leadership style in various interactions with team members. I actively seek to understand their individual aspirations and goals, allowing me to align their responsibilities with their interests and passions.

This has not only boosted their motivation but also fostered a sense of ownership and commitment to our collective success.

Overall, "Drive" transformed my understanding of motivation and provided practical insights to create a more engaging and fulfilling work environment. It continues to shape my leadership decisions and inspires me to be a leader who supports and empowers my team to thrive and excel.

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

"If I could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, it would be to prioritize empathy in your leadership approach."

Empathy is a powerful and transformative quality that can profoundly impact your leadership journey. By putting yourself in the shoes of your team members and understanding their perspectives, feelings, and needs, you can build strong connections and foster a supportive and inclusive work environment. When you lead with empathy, you show genuine care and concern for the well-being of your team.

This helps to build trust and loyalty, as your team members will know that you genuinely value them as individuals, not just as employees. Empathy also enables you to be more attuned to the challenges your team faces, both professionally and personally. By acknowledging and addressing their struggles, you can provide the necessary support and resources to help them overcome obstacles and achieve their full potential.

Furthermore, an empathetic leader is better equipped to communicate effectively, resolve conflicts, and offer constructive feedback. This emotional intelligence enables you to approach difficult conversations with understanding and compassion, which can lead to more positive outcomes and stronger relationships.

In a rapidly changing and diverse world, empathy is a crucial leadership skill that promotes inclusivity and encourages diversity of thought. It helps you embrace different perspectives and tap into the diverse talents and strengths of your team, leading to more innovative and well-rounded solutions.

In summary, as a young leader, embracing empathy as a guiding principle will not only make you a more compassionate and understanding leader but will also empower your team, drive their performance, and create a thriving and cohesive work environment. So, prioritize empathy in your leadership, and you'll make a lasting and positive impact on both your team and the organization as a whole.

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

One meaningful story that comes to mind from my time as a leader revolves around a challenging project that our team took on. We were tasked with developing a new project within a tight timeframe, and the project was critical to the company's growth. During the initial stages, we faced numerous setbacks and unexpected hurdles that threatened to derail our progress. The team was feeling overwhelmed, and it was evident that morale was starting to suffer.

As a leader, I realized that I needed to step in and provide the support and motivation necessary to keep the team focused and inspired. Instead of just trying to solve the problems myself, I decided to involve the entire team in finding solutions and making decisions. I called for a team meeting and openly discussed the challenges we were facing. I encouraged everyone to share their thoughts and ideas, emphasizing that we were all in this together.

It was essential for everyone to feel heard and valued, as I believed their diverse perspectives could lead us to innovative solutions. Through open communication and collaboration, the team started to brainstorm and share their insights. We implemented some of their suggestions, which significantly improved our workflow and efficiency.

Moreover, the team began supporting and uplifting one another, creating a more positive and productive work environment. As we progressed, I also recognized the importance of celebrating small victories along the way. We acknowledged and appreciated each milestone achieved, no matter how minor it seemed. This created a sense of progress and motivation to keep pushing forward.

In the end, despite the challenges we faced, the team successfully delivered the product on time. The project's success was not only due to the collective effort and problem-solving skills but also because of the camaraderie and mutual support that developed within the team. This experience taught me the value of shared leadership, active communication, and celebrating achievements.

It reaffirmed my belief in the power of empowering and trusting your team to overcome obstacles, as it not only strengthens teamwork but also enhances the overall outcome. The story continues to inspire me as a leader to foster a collaborative and supportive work environment, where every team member's contributions are recognized and valued, and where challenges are seen as opportunities for growth and learning.

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