Ask The Exec: Hazel Jackson, CEO, Biz Group

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What are the factors that count for successful leadership in today’s business world? We chatted with enterprise head honchos in the MENA region to learn how they managed turning their driven personalities, high-risk tolerance, and strong work ethics into a competitive advantage. In this edition, we talk to Hazel Jackson, CEO, Biz Group, about what she would advise entrepreneurs fronting their enterprises.

Biz Group

Q From a personal standpoint, what is the mantra or strategy you use for leading your company? Also, how has your management style changed over the years in which you have been in this position? 

A "During my first 15 years at Biz Group, I don’t think I had a leadership mantra. As the founder, it was about finding really great people and inspiring them to help grow the business together. As we grew beyond 25 people, I needed to develop a leadership style, one that enables an entrepreneur to micromanage less and challenge other people to think more. I found Multipliers, by Liz Wiseman, to be the perfect framework to help entrepreneurs make the shift from having all the ideas to holding others accountable for great work. It is a conscious battle to lead like a multiplier and one I still need to work on every day. But the results are always worth it: unleashing talent to do the best work of their career in an environment that is engaging.

I strive to keep growing and developing our people by giving them stretch challenges whilst equipping them with the tools and training they need to keep moving forwards. The cycles of business are moving much faster now; this and the rise in millennial talent means feedback cycles on performance conversations need to change. The annual or biannual appraisal is no longer sufficient. All employees require constant feedback to stay on top of the business needs. So, we’ve shifted our structure to incorporate frequent check-ins between employees and their line managers. This gives everyone the opportunity to understand how they’re performing in the present moment, and the opportunity to feedback on the business and the leadership team. A frequent check-in might only be 15 minutes in our stand-up meeting room, every two weeks, but it’s helping connect managers and ‘Bizers’ in a dynamic way that meets today’s business pace.”


Hazel Jackson's tips for entrepreneurs fronting their enterprises

1. Invest in your people “Take the time to nurture them, support them and develop them. Hire people that you can see will develop into great leaders, and then help them get there.” 

2. Create a culture based on trust “Don’t hire people you don’t trust. Give people space to do their jobs and don’t second guess them. With autonomy and accountability comes great work.” 

3. Give your team the freedom to innovate, and a safe place to fail “Encourage your people to challenge the way things have ‘always been done’, celebrate new ideas, and expect there to be failure along the way.” 

4. Hire based on your values “CVs will tell you about skills, and an interview should tell you if someone aligns with your company values. Find people who believe what you believe in, who want to move in the same direction as you and your company.”

 5. Keep future focused for your employees “Always look to keep your people engaged by pushing them out of their comfort zones, give them stretch challenges but offer them the support they need to achieve these tough goals.”

Related Article: Ask The Exec: Dr. Reem Osman, CEO, Saudi German Hospital Dubai

Tamara Pupic

Written By

Tamara Pupic is the Managing Editor of Entrepreneur Middle East.