Welcome back to the fourth in the Amazon Leadership series, where I review each of the Amazon Leadership principles that have been established by the Amazon Leadership team. These principles have propelled Amazon into one of the largest businesses in the world, here I review the fourth Amazon Leadership Principle, Leaders are right – a lot.
If you want to see the full list of Amazon Ledership Principles, please take a look at my first blog on the subject here.
- 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.
This principle has its roots in leaders possessing strong judgement and good instincts. These are traits that are not simply learned from a book, or from completing a course, these are traits which are formed from experience. People with good judgement aren’t born, they are raised!
You could even argue that leaders with instincts are born that way, I would disagree but it could be argued. So why would I disagree, well I strongly believe that leaders with instinct are created that way through careful exposure to the right set of circumstances, those people who had good leadership in their early career to model, that taught and showed them how to be better, and that put them into positions that allowed them to use their instincts and hone their skills. These are not just any manager or leader, these are those who have been nurtured and made excellent choices about who they would work for.
I think this is an incredibly tough principle for all leaders to meet, but it is the right level of ambition. As long as Amazon is nurturing it’s people and allowing people to learn from those with good instinct, it must also be hiring people who fit the other leadership principles and will also coach others to have these less than common traits.
The second part of this principle does a great job at pointing aspiring leaders to the habits that form great instinct and judgement. The fact that Amazon expects it’s leaders to not believe their own hype, to challenge their own beliefs and to seek the perspectives of others.
As we peer into what makes a leader be right a lot, we have to consider in who’s eyes a leader might be right. Many decisions can be looked at in a subjective way, you may have degrees of right. Your decision to move into a market may have been right, but the way you did it may have yielded 20% less return than another approach. You were still right, but you could have been more right.
But the leader who gathers broad perspectives has an opportunity to ensure not only that she has the collective intelligence of a much broader set of people than herself, but also that she has listened to the will of the people around her. She must stay sharp enough to know when to reject the opinions or recommendations of others too.
This surely is a very difficult principle to reach but has exactly the right ambition level in recruiting people who can demonstrate great decision making and the right approach. Perhaps you should consider how you would respond to this as an interview question, or pose it to potential new recruits, it certainly is a great principle to delve into peoples capabilities.
This principle is at key to building strong leadership
For the full list of principles, please see my first blog on this subject here and watch out for the next in the series, coming very soon.