The Amazon Way

We rely on Amazon for almost everything. Why not adopt some of their leadership mindsets?

We live in a world today where one word sends us into action. For example, you're having a conversation with a group of friends, and a question arises that no one seems to know the answer. The consensus of the group becomes "Google It" for the solution. Or take, for instance, you are thinking of making a purchase, the first place many of us look is Amazon.

Amazon.com, Inc. claims, "you can get everything at Amazon," and they're right. But what is it that makes Amazon so sustainably successful? How is it that they are always at the forefront of innovation, design, business, technology, and creativity? Why can they continue to invent and reinvent themselves regardless of the shifts in a competitive global economy?

And more importantly, what can we learn from Amazon's thriving and visionary disruption to help us in our daily life?

Jeff Bezos, the founder, CEO, and president of Amazon.com, Inc., has embedded the following fourteen Leadership Principles into the company culture to cultivate ideas, inspire innovation, solve problems, and for teams to lead across business sectors.

Just like Amazon, we can find ways to implement these core values into our personal and professional lives.

  1. Customer Obsession

    Leaders start with the customer and work backwards. They work vigorously to earn and keep customer trust. Although leaders pay attention to competitors, they obsess over customers.

  2. Ownership

    Leaders are owners. They think long term and don't sacrifice long-term value for short-term results. They act on behalf of the entire company, beyond just their own team. They never say, "that's not my job."

  3. Invent and Simplify

    Leaders expect and require innovation and invention from their teams and always find ways to simplify. They are externally aware, look for new ideas from everywhere, and are not limited by "not invented here." As we do new things, we accept that we may be misunderstood for long periods of time.

  4. Are Right, A Lot

    Leaders are right a lot. They have strong judgment and good instincts. They seek diverse perspectives and work to disconfirm their beliefs.

  5. Learn and Be Curious

    Leaders are never done learning and always seek to improve themselves. They are curious about new possibilities and act to explore them.

  6. Hire and Develop the Best

    Leaders raise the performance bar with every hire and promotion. They recognize exceptional talent, and willingly move them throughout the organization. Leaders develop leaders and take seriously their role in coaching others. We work on behalf of our people to invent mechanisms for development like Career Choice.

  7. Insist on the Highest Standards

    Leaders have relentlessly high standards — many people may think these standards are unreasonably high. Leaders are continually raising the bar and drive their teams to deliver high quality products, services, and processes. Leaders ensure that defects do not get sent down the line and that problems are fixed so they stay fixed.

  8. Think Big

    Thinking small is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Leaders create and communicate a bold direction that inspires results. They think differently and look around corners for ways to serve customers.

  9. Bias for Action

    Speed matters in business. Many decisions and actions are reversible and do not need extensive study. We value calculated risk-taking. 

  10. Frugality

    Accomplish more with less. Constraints breed resourcefulness, self-sufficiency, and invention. There are no extra points for growing headcount, budget size, or fixed expense.

  11. Earn Trust

    Leaders listen attentively, speak candidly, and treat others respectfully. They are vocally self-critical, even when doing so is awkward or embarrassing. Leaders do not believe their or their team's body odor smells of perfume. They benchmark themselves and their teams against the best.

  12. Dive Deep

    Leaders operate at all levels, stay connected to the details, audit frequently, and are skeptical when metrics and anecdotes differ. No task is beneath them.

  13. Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit

    Leaders are obligated to respectfully challenge decisions when they disagree, even when doing so is uncomfortable or exhausting. Leaders have conviction and are tenacious. They do not compromise for the sake of social cohesion. Once a decision is determined, they commit wholly.

  14. Deliver Results

    Leaders focus on the key inputs for their business and deliver them with the right quality and in a timely fashion. Despite setbacks, they rise to the occasion and never settle.

As a leader, coach, educator, colleague, or parent, we can all take away some value from Amazon's Leadership Principles. Remain mindful of these values while focusing on incorporating a few into your daily life with action. We rely on Amazon for almost everything. Why not adopt some of their leadership mindsets? It would be the prime thing to do!


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