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16 Amazon Leadership Principles for Success in Business

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Amazon is one of the most successful companies in the world. They had a net income of $33 billion in 2021. This is in part due to the 16 leadership principles of Amazon.

These principles guide how Amazon operates and its employees behave. If you want to be successful in business, it’s important to have a strong set of values that you live by.

In this article, we’ll dive into these Amazon leadership principles so you can take inspiration and apply leadership practices to your own business.

Amazon leadership principles

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1. Customer Obsession

Amazon is known for its customer-centric approach, and this focus is found in its leadership principles. “Leaders start with the customer and work backward,” Amazon says. “Although leaders pay attention to competitors, they obsess over customers.”

Customer obsession leaders innovate on behalf of their customers. Whether it’s developing new products or improving the customer experience. Amazon puts the needs of its customers above all else. And this commitment has helped it build a loyal following.

As Amazon grows, it continues to put customer obsession at the forefront. They ensure they always meet (and exceed) customer expectations.

2. Ownership

Amazon leaders are all-in when it comes to their teams, and they never say “that’s not my job.” They don’t focus on just their own team. Amazon leaders also think long-term. They don’t sacrifice long-term value for short-term results. These are a few examples of how Amazon leaders exemplify ownership.

Amazon is a company that encourages its employees to think like owners. They are encouraged to think of their impact on the entire company. And this is one of the key reasons why the company has been so successful.

3. Invent and Simplify

Amazon’s leadership principles are designed to encourage inventiveness and simplicity among its employees. One of the key tenets is that Amazon leaders “look for new ideas from everywhere.” This means they are on the lookout for new ways to improve their business, and they are not afraid to embrace change. They are encouraged to be entrepreneurial.

Amazon leaders are not limited by ‘not invented here.’ ” This means they are open to adopting new ideas from outside the company. Even if those ideas are not popular with Amazon employees.

4. Are Right, A Lot

Amazon’s leadership principle “Are Right, A Lot” says that leaders should have strong judgment and good instincts. They should seek out diverse perspectives and work to disconfirm their beliefs.

This principle ensures that leaders make decisions that are in the best interest of the company and its customers. Amazon believes that leaders who are right a lot are more likely to make forecasts and decisions that create value for the company and customers.

5. Learn and Be Curious

Amazon’s leadership principle “Learn and Be Curious” is about learning and improving oneself. Leaders at Amazon are never done learning and are always seeking to improve themselves. They seek diverse perspectives

They are curious about new possibilities and act to explore them. This principle allows Amazon leaders to stay ahead of the curve and be able to innovate and adapt to change.

6. Hire and Develop the Best

best hiring practices
Source: Modern Hire

Amazon has always been a company of leaders. From the early days when they were a small group of eCommerce pioneers, to their present-day status. Their success has always been driven by exceptional people. Leaders are encouraged to recognize exceptional talent. That’s why one of their leadership principles is “Hire and Develop the Best.”

7. Insist on the Highest Standards

One of Amazon’s Leadership Principles is “Insist on the highest standards.” This principle is evident in everything from the products Amazon sells to the way it runs its business. Leaders at Amazon are constantly raising the bar. They challenge their teams to deliver high-quality products, services, and processes.

They refuse to accept mediocrity, insisting that every detail be perfect. This commitment to excellence has helped to make Amazon one of the most successful companies in the world.

8. Think Big

This leadership principle symbolizes “Think Big” aspect. Challenging employees to think differently and look around corners for ways to serve customers. This principle is based on the idea that thinking small is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Leaders create and communicate a bold direction that inspires results. By thinking big, leaders can find new and innovative ways to serve customers and achieve results.

9. Bias for Action

In business, speed matters. Amazon believes many decisions can be reversed, and don’t need extensive study. Amazon’s leadership principle “Bias for Action” values calculated risk-taking.

When a company is able to move quickly, it can experiment and iterate on its ideas. This allows them to find the best solutions faster than their competitors.

By being quick to act, Amazon is able to seize opportunities that other companies miss. This nimbleness is a key driver of amazon’s success.

10. Frugality

Amazon has long been known for its thrifty ways. In the early days of the company, employees would reuse packing material from shipments to save on costs. Even now, Amazon is famous for its frugality. This reflects in its leadership principle “accomplish more with less.” This principle encourages employees to be resourceful and self-sufficient and to find ways to do more with less.

11. Earn Trust

Leaders at Amazon earn trust by listening, speaking candidly, and treating others respectfully. They are also vocally self-critical, even when doing so is awkward or embarrassing.

They benchmark themselves and their teams against the best. Leaders at Amazon create an environment where people can have difficult conversations candidly. This in turn builds trust and strengthens relationships.

12. Dive Deep

Amazon’s leadership principle “Dive Deep” stresses leaders being connected to the details of their work. They should stay informed about what is going on at all levels of the organization, whether it’s people, processes, or technology.

These ‘deep leaders’ are encouraged to be skeptical when metrics and anecdotes differ. They should be willing to investigate discrepancies.

Leaders should also not shy away from doing tasks that are considered “beneath” them.

13. Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit

Leaders need to have conviction and be tenacious, without compromising for the sake of social cohesion. Once a decision is made, they need to commit wholly. This principle is designed to create a culture of debate where the best ideas can rise to the top. While still maintaining a high level of respect and commitment from everyone involved. It can be difficult to strike this balance, but it is important for strong leadership.

14. Deliver Results

Amazon leaders are constantly looking for ways to improve their key inputs. They never settle for the status quo and are always looking for ways to improve the quality of their inputs. Despite setbacks, they always find a way to deliver results. This leadership principle is essential for Amazon’s success.

New Additions to Amazon leadership principles

Since publishing its famous list of 14 leadership principles, Amazon has added two new leadership principles to reflect its evolution as a company. They are:

15. Strive to be Earth’s Best Employer

This principle aims at working to build a workplace that is safe, productive, inclusive, and fair. The goal is to lead with sensitivity and consider whether their coworkers are developing, gaining power, and ready for the next step. Amazon executives are encouraged to have a long-term vision for their employees’ success.

16. Success and Scale Bring Broad Responsibility

This principle highlights being reflective and responsible. With success comes more responsibility, and you have to think about how you affect other people outside and inside your company. Amazon is a successful company, and so it has a responsibility to make sure that its business practices are sustainable and that its workers are treated well.

ESG responsibilites
Credit: Anevis

This principle is important because it shows that Amazon is not just focused on making money, but also on being a good corporate citizen.

Why should Amazon’s leadership principles matter to you?

As a leader, it is essential to have a clear set of principles that guide your decisions and actions. Amazon’s leadership principles are a good example of how a set of guiding principles can help to shape the culture and operations of a company.

These principles are important because they provide a framework for thinking about problems and making decisions. They also serve as a reminder that, as a leader, you need to be focused on the long-term health of the organization, not just short-term results.

When you are faced with a difficult decision, you can refer to these principles to help me make the best decision for the company. In addition, These principles can help to inspire and motivate employees.

FAQs

Does Amazon have 14 or 16 leadership principles?

In late-2021, Amazon announced that they’d added two new Leadership Principles, increasing a famous list by of 14 by two. Amazon’s leadership principles are a set of guidelines that Amazon lives by as a company, and they’ve been instrumental in Amazon’s success.

The two new principles are:

  • Strive to be Earth’s Best Employer
  • Success and Scale Bring Broad Responsibility

What is the leadership style at Amazon?

Amazon’s leadership style is considered pragmatic. Pragmatic leaders set high, yet achievable expectations for themselves and their teams. They focus on tangible results. Amazon’s leadership principles are all about getting results the right way.

Another important leadership quality at Amazon is fearlessness and willingness to take action even when the full picture is not clear. Amazon employees are expected to take risks and experiment and not be afraid of failing.

Do Amazon Leadership Principles Work For Everyone?

Amazon’s Leadership Principles are designed to create a culture of excellence, customer obsession, and ownership. But do they work for everyone? No, not necessarily.

Every organization is different and has different values. What works for Amazon might not work for your company. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t study the principles and see what you can learn from them.

See what works the best for your company and then change the principles to fit your needs. By doing this, you can create a culture of excellence, customer obsession, and ownership in your own organization.

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