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7 Questions on Leadership with Mohammad Tirani

Name: Mohammad Tirani

Title: Director of Operations

Organisation: GXO

Currently working with GXO as Director of Operations leading multiple logistics sites in France. Before Joining GXO I worked for Amazon as Senior Operations Manager in the Pathways Program after doing a career triple jump transitioning from the construction to the logistics sector, from an engineer to an operations manager, and from Saudi Arabia to France.

I hold a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering and a Master in Business Administration (EDHEC Business School).

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

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


Jonno White

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

The most challenging thing as a leader is to find the perfect balance between inspiring and developing people and taking tough business decisions that do not impact the inspiration and development of people. Leaders set the path for the people in order to reach safely the long-term goals, and people would follow this path because they believe in the set goals.

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

I have been always obsessed by two things: learning, and interacting with people.

I started managing teams since my first career day, whether it being a small team (10-20 people) in construction sites in the Gulf, or a big organization (more than 1000 people) in French logistics sites. I loved working with people to solve all types of problems, from a small problem in a piping installation, to a work-life balance issue with a colleague, to a big business problem that needs a clear plan with a specific task force. I got my mechanical engineering degree in Lebanon, then my MBA in the EDHEC business school in the South of France 5 years after, and lived 4 months in Nagoya (Japan) for my MBA exchange program. I learn every day and chose to apply and pass on my learnings. I chose to be a leader by inspiring people, helping people grow, and learning from my mistakes. Different types of leadership exist, but being a leader is always a choice, not a career position.

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

My routine is a weekly one; it can go from floor walks with the team and operations planning, to financial performance planning and assessment. I try to set my routine as per the following: 60% interactions with people (meetings, 1:1, etc.), 30% office work, and 10% planning. Despite that my daily routine is almost never the same, I always keep the following routine: (1) Planning for WK+1, (2) planning for D+1, (3) debriefing D-1 plan completion. I believe that the ability to adjust the plans in order to achieve the set goals is more important than having a fix daily routine that does not work well with changes.

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

Recently one of my team members took a bad decision, and his performance was impacted afterwards as he was not able to cope with the failure. I told him about the first wrong decision that I took; the impact was pretty bad. This was my first failure, and it was very hard for me to cope with the situation. I still remember until this day the words of my manager:” You should not be worried about failing, you should be worried about what to do next”. Failure is a part of life, and I learned to focus more on what comes after failure than focusing on what happened. Failure does not define who we are, what we do next does.

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?

The most important skill that a person should develop and work on is decision making. We take decisions every day, on what to say or not to say, what to actor not to act, and the consequences of these decisions shape our life. One of the best books that tackles this topic is “Thinking fast and slow” by “Daniel Kahneman” where he talks about two systems of thought that help us make our every-day decisions.

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

When we start are career it is easy to get over overwhelmed by the number of challenges that we need to overcome to prove ourselves. Nevertheless, a leader will focus 80% of his/her energy on the things that can be controlled and influenced, 20% of the energy on the things that cannot be controlled but can be influenced, and 0% on the things that cannot be controlled or influenced. Once this is understood, a young leader will be able to prioritize the challenges and set a clear path to success.

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

I remember being in a difficult personal situation that prevented me from going to work some years ago, and my team had to run a site with 500 people without a manager during a full 2 months. I had built a pretty strong team back then, and I was more than confident that they would be able to handle the situation. One of my proudest moments was actually the one when I was completely absent; I realized that the team that I had was able to handle the situation perfectly. Leaders inspire others to be leaders, prepare them for the next step, and give them all the tools to grow.

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