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7 Questions on Leadership with Armid Azadeh

Name: Armid Azadeh

Title: Managing Director

Organisation: Macquarie Medical

Born in Germany, grown up in Southern Africa, worked in 3 continents, I'm truly a global citizen.

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

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


Jonno White

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

As the founder of a startup in the emerging field of telemedicine, I've found that one of the most challenging aspects of leadership is continually motivating my small team as we build the demand for telemedicine services within an inherently small and conservative market.

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

When I completed medical school, a close friend asked me what I was going to do with my profession? How was I going to contribute to change? It took a decade thereafter, where I travelled the world working in various countries, for me to find myself enrolled in a Master of Public Health, at Johns Hopkins, which ultimately redirected my focus to truly changing the healthcare landscape in Namibia. On returning I setup a company whose aim is bringing healthcare within reach through digital health and telemedicine innovation.

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

My typical work days currently consist of an early wake up to help my boys get ready for school. I drop them off by 7am and by then I usually have a few pending tele consults waiting for me, so I settle down to clear those that our network of doctors haven't been able to get to over a cup of coffee till about 8. I'd usually head to our response centre whereby my team and I work through operational issues with patients and clients, and thereafter engage with my commercial director with regards to growth prospects. This could involve meeting clients or working on proposals and healthcare financing/delivery models. I usually spend some time with advisory board members in between, tackling legal reviews of contracts, finance/compliance systems, or technological improvements needed for our software. In the afternoon I tend to see patients in person which is good for me to stay clinically sharp. I usually try to keep a balance in my work life, so make sure that I get a gym session in the later afternoon before helping my kids with their sports activities later in the day. Then its family time until its time to recharge.

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 concept of servant leadership, originally coined by Robert Greenleaf, while working closely with my response center team in the telemedicine startup. As we faced a surge in demand due to unexpected utilisation by a new client, I realized the importance of putting the team's needs and well-being at the forefront. By adopting a servant leadership approach, I focused on providing the necessary resources, support, and clear communication to empower my team to perform at their best during high-stress situations.

This experience reinforced that true leadership involves serving the people you lead, ensuring their growth and success. It's about listening to their concerns, removing obstacles, and showing empathy towards their challenges. By doing so, I witnessed increased motivation, resilience, and a stronger sense of unity within the team, which ultimately improved our response center's effectiveness and the quality of care we delivered to our patients.

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 such book is "Servant Leadership" by Robert K. Greenleaf alluded to previously. This book introduced and popularized the concept of servant leadership, emphasizing the idea that leaders should prioritize serving others rather than focusing solely on their own power and interests.

The impact of this book on leadership is often profound because it encourages leaders to adopt a more empathetic and selfless approach to leading teams and organizations. Leaders who have read this book often find themselves inspired to create a more inclusive, collaborative, and employee-centric work environment, ultimately leading to improved team dynamics and organizational success.

As the leader of a small team, this approach has helped us through numerous operational challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic whereby our patients were heavily reliant on our services as traditional healthcare centres were inundated.

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

If I could offer one crucial piece of advice to a young leader, it would be to always stay humble and maintain a continuous learning mindset. Leadership is an ongoing journey, and no matter how experienced or knowledgeable you become, there is always room for growth and improvement. Embracing humility means acknowledging that you don't have all the answers and that you can learn valuable lessons from both successes and failures.

Being in a perpetual state of learning not only keeps you adaptable in a rapidly changing world but also fosters a culture of growth within your team or organization. It encourages open-mindedness, encourages innovation, and demonstrates to your team that growth and development are ongoing priorities. Remember that leadership isn't about having all the solutions; it's about empowering others, fostering collaboration, and constantly evolving as a leader and as a person.

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

During the devastating second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Namibia, our team faced an immense challenge in ensuring the well-being of our remote patients and maintaining seamless operations for our corporate clients in the telemedicine startup. The story that stands out is when our commitment to serving our patients was put to the ultimate test.

As cases surged and hospitals became overwhelmed, we had to rapidly expand our telehealth services to meet the escalating demand. Our response center team, despite the unprecedented workload and emotional toll, remained steadfast in their dedication to providing high-quality care remotely. We introduced new protocols, streamlined processes, and trained additional healthcare professionals to join our team.

However, what made this experience truly meaningful was witnessing the unwavering support and unity within our team. Every member, from the leadership team to the front-line healthcare providers, worked tirelessly, putting the well-being of our patients and the community first. We collaborated closely with local and national health authorities to share insights and data, contributing to a broader understanding of the pandemic's impact.

Through our collective efforts we managed to not only maintain our corporate clients' operations but also provided a lifeline to countless individuals who needed medical guidance and support during this critical time. This experience reinforced the importance of resilience, adaptability, and empathy in leadership, and it serves as a testament to the incredible dedication of our team in the face of adversity.

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