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Amazon Leadership Principles

Amazon Principles and why they work.

This is going to be a blog series where I take each one of Amazon’s leadership principles and set out why I think they work or don’t work. Let me start by saying that I think these are a seriously good set of leadership principles and I think all organisations should have these, aligned of course with the culture an organisation wants to create.

The Leadership principles Amazon adopts are as follows, as I post new blogs on each I will link them here, so those with links have been updated and those without are coming soon:

  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”. Because 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 judgement 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 recognise people with exceptional talent and willingly move them throughout the organisation. Leaders develop leaders and are serious about 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 driving 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 odour 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 sceptical when metrics and anecdote 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 compromise.

If you would like to read more about Amazons meteoric rise to becoming one of the biggest businesses in the world, which has propelled Jeff Bezos to becoming the richest man in the world, please check it out here.

I will start my next post with an analysis of the first one, and I like that the customer is right there in the first leadership principle, its critical to any corporate level of success, put the customer first!

Until the next in the series!

Dan

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