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INTERVIEW WITH DR RAZA SIDDIQUI

Nathan Nagel

By Nathan Nagel

Nathan is the CEO of the Middle East Medical Portal

The world is full of people in leadership positions, yet there are not many truly authentic leaders. My perspective is that an authentic leader must have people who chose to follow them, whereas a dictator is likely to have subordinates who only follow out of fear. There are a plethora of articles and interviews of the great success that Dr Raza Siddique has achieved yet they are all the ‘what’ has been done. I was interested to understand the ‘why’ Dr Siddique has been successful, what kind of leader he is and how he thinks.

Dr Siddiqui, why do you think you are a good leader of people?

“Nathan, good to meet you. I believe I am a good leader today because I have been working on my leadership skills for over 3 decades. I started my career in large pharmaceutical companies and I was fortunate to be appointed as a manager of large teams at the age of 25. It was during these early years that I made mistakes and learnt how not to lead; every time I either got something wrong or the outcome was not what I wanted I gave myself some time to think, analyse and go back and try a different approach. The years of introspection, being able to admit when I got it wrong and my persistence in implementing the changes needed to improve myself eventually formed who I am today.”

What was the net result from the introspection?

“The decades of self-improvement, learning about human psychology and treating people how I would like to be treated has enabled me to get exceptional results out of my exceptional team. An exceptional team is critical to success as I may be the leader, but my team are equally important; if I am the head, they are the body and together we have been successful. In this regard I am very fortunate and humbled as lots of my team members have been with me for many years and some for over decade.”

Dr Siddiqui, how do you view the digitalisation of life and how does this change leadership in 2019?

“Firstly, I take a personal interest in making sure that I know as much as I can about the latest technology so that I can best serve my customers. That said, the latest advancements in medical technology can be a help or hinderance in a healthcare service. The temptation for Doctors is that if they have the world’s best technology they see that as the reason why ‘their’ patient should be impressed, where in reality the customers care more about how they are treated as a human being.”

What about the effect on people leadership?

“Back when I started as a young leader there were no electronic communication methods, so I travelled a lot and spoke to a lot of people, face to face or in small groups. I still believe that no amount of technology can replace a face to face discussion where the people that you are blessed to lead can see that your body language and tone is congruent with the words that you speak.”

Dr Siddiqui, how would you describe your people leadership style and approach?

“Before we talk about my style there is a critical piece to discuss before leadership can occur. Ultimately leaders need people to work with, so the team comes first. For a leader to deliver world class results, the leader must first know the head and the body are a team so picking the best team to be your body is critical. Upon choosing the best team the initial part is to get to know them, not just on a superficial level but to really get to know them deeply. The reason is, that a world champion weightlifter knows how best to lift a weight as they know their body, it’s the same as being a leader, the head, must know the bodies strengths and weaknesses and how to keep making small improvements over many years. The second critical element is to communicate the mission, vision and objectives face to face with the core team. The third part is to discuss with each core team member both what they think, and what I think, about their strengths, weaknesses and areas that can be improved upon. Following on from this is to clearly define expectations and to verbally talk through them and write them down for both parties to refer too. A further integral part to leadership is coaching and encouraging the core team that you are leading as people thrive and grow on seeing themselves improve.”

What happens when people don’t perform?

“Of course, that’s not to say that its all fluffy as people make genuine mistakes; when they do it’s an opportunity to either ‘lead or lose’ them. When the person is in a hole, you can either offer them a ladder and show them how to get out or stand over them and look down at them. My final element is to collaborate with my core team as, unless they have both an emotional and intellectual buy in, they will not be effective however when the body and the head work together, great accomplishments can be achieved as a team.”

Dr Siddiqui, why do you think you are a good commercial leader?

“Being a good commercial leader is a lot like chess where you must look ahead and predict the next move of the market and understand the psychology of the move. To do this I observe global trends but more importantly, to deliver world class healthcare I look outside of the healthcare at other industries. Sadly, one of the global macro-economic factors that changed the healthcare market was the Twin towers 911 disaster in the USA. The long history of people from the GCC flying to the USA started to rapidly decline which left a gap in the market to, not only deliver world class healthcare, but to improve upon it. Private patients are not reliant on any hospital, as they have a choice, however private hospitals are reliant on patients, as without them, they have no business. Therefore, the power is firmly with the patient as they are the customer and hospital customers vote with their feet.”

So what did you do with this realisation?

“I set about analysing both the healthcare market and other similar markets, such as the hotel market, where people can spend a few days to a number of weeks in the building. The key word is ‘spend’ as people choose based on their perspective and on their criteria. Imagine a hotel where the location is perfect, the rooms are perfect, the food is perfect, but the staff are not very polite to customers. Technically the hotel is perfect, but the customer had an awful experience, so they never go back. Hospitals can sometimes be like this, where the equipment is world class and the surgeon performed the perfect precise operation but where nobody treated the patient with respect, the food is poor, and the patient and family were treated like they were below the Doctors.”

“After deep analysis it was clear that hospitals need to deliver more than healthcare and that keeping a customer physically healthy is not enough to win repeat business.”

Dr Siddiqui, thank you very much for your time and it was a pleasure to learn how you think.

RAZA SIDDIQUE