MP chatted with Jamil Ahmad, Co-Founder and Chief Business Officer of Fashinza, an AI-driven B2B marketplace and tech-enabled global supply chain platform for fashion brands, retailers, and manufacturers. Under his leadership, Fashinza expanded globally across six countries, including the United States, Canada, UAE, and India. Ahmad is not only a fashion industry expert with more than a decade of experience but has also scaled startups from the ground up. 

With intimate knowledge of the fashion industry, Jamil is passionate about improving it; he believes technological disruption will impact many lives throughout the fashion ecosystem for the better. As an active angel investor, he has invested in more than 30 early-stage startups across the globe. Ahmad holds a Master’s in Business Administration.

In his early career, Ahmad built proficiency in sales that enabled him to find success while serving as a member of the founding team at Limeroad, an online marketplace for apparel and home goods. During his six years at Limeroad, he built the Company’s lifestyle business from zero to $150M in ARR while leading a world-class team of 50. 

Jamil Ahmad
Co-Founder and Chief Business Officer of Fashinza Jamil Ahmad / Photo courtesy of Jamil Ahmad

What are three non-negotiable things a team leader must do for their team, and why? 

1. Visionary Leadership

Visionary leadership is a personal quality and behavior, not a role or title. 

Leaders must outline a vision for themselves and, more importantly, their teams. 

Where are we going? 

What is the end game? 

What are the key goals we need to pursue to get there? 

Visionary leaders have passion and strength of will to achieve long-term goals.

Visionary leaders make the mission clear and relevant, engaging people in goal achievement, driving accountability, and delivering value. 

This is essential, no matter the size of the team. 

2. Integrity

Make sure you do the right thing for all the right reasons. 

You will be called on to make difficult decisions in any leadership role. If you conduct yourself with integrity, your people will respect you. 

Some may disagree with your decisions, but if they know you act with integrity, they will accept your direction. 

As one of my mentors told me: “People can spot someone who takes moral shortcuts.” 

Always remember that a reputation lost is a career destroyed.

3. Lead by Example

Don't ask anyone to do something you wouldn't do yourself. 

If you ask others to stay late, you should too. 

When I ran a new business unit, our initial office space couldn't accommodate everyone having an office. So I sat down with my senior team and defined objective criteria for an office together. I didn't qualify, and much to everyone's surprise, I sat in a cubicle alongside the other employees. It stated: I play by the same rules as everyone else. 

Any rule or policy we adopt, I abide by as well. 

You can't act one way and expect others to act differently. 

As a leader, you have to be a role model.

How important is it for a team leader to provide feedback, how detailed and frequently should feedback be delivered, and why? 

Feedback is of great help in leadership and establishes good communication practices. 

I find feedback can help create a clear picture, increases transparency, keeps everyone on track, and helps to create a friendly work environment.

Constructive feedback is a robust tool for creating healthy culture feedback boosts productivity and engagement and allows a team to achieve better results. 

Feedback positively influences communication, team members’ interaction, and results in different fields.

When you are building a startup, feedback is especially important. Thanks to feedback, we learn daily in a startup environment and fix the issues constantly. 

Initially, I recommend feedback discussions weekly, biweekly, and monthly. 


Frequent performance feedback comes with a lot of benefits. 

Feedback creates confidence, awareness, and performance improvement and provides affirmation and direction. 

Feedback creates better employee/manager relationships, does away with guesswork, and improves conversation skills.

How do you determine what things to delegate and the team members to delegate things to, and how has this changed over time?

Delegating tasks is a skill that, like any skill, can be learned and improved over time. 

Delegation is a primary key to maximizing productivity and keeping yourself sane during tight deadlines or large workloads. 

Knowing when it’s time to delegate is crucial and can create a win-win for everyone involved. 

To determine if the time is right, consider asking the following questions:

  • Does someone else have the information and the tools to complete this task? 
  • Does the task or assignment allow a colleague to grow or develop a new skill?
  • Do I have the time and the necessary resources to delegate responsibilities effectively?
  • Is the task critical to the long-term success of the organization?
  • Does the deadline give your team members the necessary time to complete the delegated work?
Team leader walks with team
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How important is it for a team leader to communicate with their team, and how detailed should such communications be?

Team communication is one of the most fundamental aspects of collaboration.

Communication in teams is more than just efficient work. It allows everyone on the team to be educated on any topic that may affect their work. 

Moreover, it develops trust, builds camaraderie among the team members, boosts morale, helps employees stay engaged in the workplace, builds healthy work relationships, improves employee engagement, enhances transparency, reduces conflicts, and develops employee skills. 

I recommend that leaders strive to be great listeners and communicators. 


You can't understand what's happening around you unless you listen to others. 

Listening is how you learn. 

It’s how you gain perspective. 

Listening is how you understand what's important and what's not. 

It’s how you discover challenges and opportunities. 

A good listener sends a strong message to others: “I respect and care about what you say.” 

Throughout my career, the best ideas always came from people closest to the core operations we were looking to improve. 

You can't find those answers unless you ask many questions from the key players and then listen carefully to the answers.


Leaders should master both the form and substance of communication. 

Quite simply, you can't lead unless people understand your message. 

Language, tone, facial expression, and non-verbal cues all send messages that impact what you are saying. 

This also applies to listening. 

If you look away or check your phone while someone is talking, they know you are not listening.

What are three communications mistakes you’ve made with teams in your charge, and how could those mistakes have been avoided?

1. Making Assumptions

Making assumptions can be a problem for anyone, particularly for a workplace leader. When we assume things about ourselves, other people, or circumstances, it can cause:


Possibly to the point of creating a toxic work culture.

Hard Feelings

These foster discontent and complacency.

Loss of Motivation

Feeling like there’s no point.

Team Breakdown

This can prevent dialogue and innovation

Decreased Productivity

Preventing organization-wide forward movement.

Retention Issues

Great employees might leave!

2. How to avoid making assumptions

Sometimes speaking with people in person or even via video teleconference is better than sending an email because they get to hear your tone, observe your body language and ask you questions at the moment if they’re uncertain. 

Email can be problematic because it’s easy for tone or intent to be misconstrued, and the subsequent back and forth exchanges can lead to more misunderstanding.

3. Hoarding Information

There was a time when I thought I was the only person in my workplace who could complete specific tasks without messing them up. 

Delegating would mean I had two options: communicate the proper way of completing the tasks and help them to see that their efforts are valued, or keep the tasks to myself, employ the “less talk, more work” concept and allow others to watch me work. 

Of course, I chose the latter. 

As a result, we missed deadlines, and our inability to progress hung in the balance of my immaturity.

Team leader talking to team
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How have you used conflict resolution as a team leader, and what conflict resolution principles should team leaders know about, and why?

Speak to a Member Individually and Bring People Together

When it comes to managing conflict, the best thing is to speak individually, then bring them together and take action when there is hard evidence or proof that an employee has a track record of wrongdoing that is negatively impacting the performance of others.

Know Boundaries

Everyone deals with conflict differently, so you must know the risks and rewards of conflict resolution within the boundaries of each of your employees.

Respect Difference

Beyond understanding how conflict could have been avoided, respecting differences Rather than imposing your influence, hierarchy, or rank on people can help you better understand how to manage conflict with people in general (and their boundaries).

Step in When Needed

Be sure not to allow specific individuals to dominate the conversation or bully more reserved colleagues. If one person constantly talks over others, keep your questions directed at the person being interrupted. If people still attempt to interrupt, politely ask them to wait until their co-worker has finished before inviting their point of view.

Confront the Tension

Conflict resolution is one of those things that produce tension, but as leaders, we must confront the tension head-on. Don’t wait; instead, activate your leadership to address the conflict before circumstances force your hand.


Things to look out for include body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice.

How do you approach building relationships within your team, where is the line drawn that shouldn’t be crossed, and why?

Demonstrate Mutual Respect and Trust

Showing respect that your team has a lot on their plate and goals of their own can go a long way in earning goodwill when you make a request.

Understand the Vision and Ambition of Your Team

Where they want to see themselves after three and five years, and what they want to achieve.

Know Your Team

Know the Competency of your team.

Give Them Feedback

You should communicate with your team where they are doing well and where to improve. You should speak to them consistently weekly, monthly, etc.


Demonstrate empathy towards team members’ challenges. 

What are some team leadership mistakes you see entrepreneurs make, and how can these mistakes be avoided?

Few of the best leaders in the world are people who know what they don’t know. 

If you’re a leader, that doesn’t mean you’re like a God. 

I began to equate my leadership with total intelligence, shutting out input and suggestions from those working underneath me.

Leaders need to empower and give people permission to make mistakes. 

No one is perfect. 

The more pressure you put on people, the more likely they will falter under the weight. 

You’ve made mistakes – plenty of them! 

Let your employees make their mistakes, too.

One of the keystone principles of being a good leader is recognizing when you don’t have an answer. 

Listening to input and considering it will give you new perspectives on the problem.

Responses provided by Jamil Ahmad, Co-Founder & CBO at Fashinza.

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