Introducing the world to online shopping in a time when it was merely a fantasy was a big win in itself. This far-fetched concept of buying and selling things online seemed like a no-go, but as we all know today, Amazon is one of the biggest e-commerce platforms. Let’s explore and learn a few things about Jeff Bezos's leadership style that helped him go from zero to hero.
Beating the odds wasn’t easy for Jeff Bezos, but his leadership principles helped him hit the jackpot. Changing mindsets to changing the way people shop, Jeff Bezos brought a new perspective to the business industry.
Out of all the leadership principles followed by Jeff Bezos, the prime one was about its customers and workers. He believed in treating the customer as king. Also, to keep the company shareholders updated on the company's progress and beliefs, Jeff Bezos started an odd but functional way of writing shareholder letters.
About Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos, a self-made entrepreneur, is an inspiration for many people. His journey to building a successful business as Amazon started with small dreams built out of his parent’s garage. But as a recent graduate, Jeff was working on Wall Street in the computer science field, before stepping foot into the business world.
After completing 4 years of corporate life, Jeff Bezos started his entrepreneurial journey by launching Amazon in 1995. It started as an online book store with few employees, but sooner than later, Amazon recorded a sale of $20,000 in one week.
With recurring success and expansion at Amazon, Jeff Bezos expanded his business acquisitions and became the owner of Washington Post (a newspaper publishing company) and Whole Foods (a grocery store). Continuing his legacy as a business leader, Jeff Bezos founded Blue Origin - a human spaceflight company, in 2000.
All in all, Jeff Bezos is an outstanding and inspiring entrepreneur whose leadership principles are game-changing.
His unique approach
As the CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos made many changes within the company, but one of the remarkable ones is the company culture. Building a happy ecosystem of customers and employees wasn’t easy, but it turned out to be possible for Amazon with Jeff Bezos's leadership style.
One empty chair rule
Jeff Bezos believes that to be successful you need to start with the customer. He also had an unusual way of showing it during meetings. As the customer could not be present for a meeting, he always kept an empty chair that represented the customer. This was done to influence the team to come up with solutions and ideas that benefit the customers.
Believe in long-term thinking
In a world where everyone is after short-term profitability, Jeff Bezos as a leader believes in long-term thinking and results. He says that if he had been focused on short-term goals, Amazon’s prime offerings such as the Kindle, Amazon Web Services, and Amazon Prime would not have existed. This approach gave Amazon and Bezos an upper hand over the competitors.
Failure and innovation are inseparable twins
The differentiating thing between a successful business and an unsuccessful one is their willingness to experiment. As said by Jeff in an interview, you cannot have innovation without failure. Amazon as a company conducts and encourages experimentation, which allows them to create the inventions you see today. Also, Jeff believes that most creations come from trial and error, which is part of experimentation.
Stubborn on vision and flexible on details
Jeff Bezos believes that to achieve something great and important, you need to have a crisp idea about your vision and be stubborn enough to abide by it. While having a stubborn vision about the end goal, he says, you must be flexible with the process. There will be a lot of experimenting, mistakes in the process, and to rectify those, you need to have that flexible mindset to make the dream come true.
'Two pizza' meetings - Focused on increasing productivity
Bezos believes in having meetings and discussions in small groups as it cuts down the time and effort required to create a structure. He started a “two pizza rule” for group discussions, within the team or the overall company.
The “two pizza rule” meant that any discussion, team meeting should have groups of around 5 to 7 people that are small enough to complete two pizzas. This is amongst the unique Bezos leadership style, that states more people in a discussion results in less productivity.
Why does it work?
Jeff Bezos' leadership style takes into consideration both - its customers and its employees. So, providing high-quality and innovative products and services to the customer makes Amazon a leading brand. While providing employees with room to grow and become the best of themselves, it makes working with Amazon and Jeff a treat!
The transformational, innovative, and task-oriented approach used by Jeff to create high standards is why people look up to him and business owners want to be like him.
The common question that gets asked in business is, ‘why?’ That’s a good question, but an equally valid question is, ‘why not?’
- Jeff Bezos-
How to apply Jeff Bezos's leadership style?
Being a game-changer in the e-commerce industry, a role model for Amazon employees, and owning successful companies in the world together make Jeff Bezos the legend that he is today. Want to be more like him and learn from his journey? Try adopting these steps:
Encourage the concepts of adaptability, productivity, and teamwork within the company
With rising competition and dynamic changes, employees and companies must adapt, accept and implement steps that increase productivity and teamwork. This approach helps Amazon create a high-performing company culture while keeping their employees happy.
Keep your customers first
“Start with the customer and work backwards.“
Whether you are a startup or a well-established brand, your prime responsibility is to serve customers with the best service and product. To do so, you must provide solutions that solve a problem or fulfill the needs of your ideal customer.
You can also start by asking yourself - How does your product/service benefit the customer? This will help identify where you stand and plan the next steps.
Be willing to invest, experiment, fail and innovate
This Jeff Bezos leadership style changed the game for Amazon. So, if you want to be successful, start experimenting and innovating. No extraordinary thing is born in a go, it takes many rounds of trial and error. Preach this ideology in your team to make them risk-takers and successful individuals.
Set long-term goals and vision
If you want to stay in business for long, you need to have a long-term vision, so do your employees. Without a vision, you are clueless and more likely to end up unsuccessful. So encourage your employees and yourself to chase the long-term goals and let go of the greed for short-term benefits.
Be a risk-taker
Without these leadership principles, Jeff might have also been an ordinary person like many of us. These useful nuggets of wisdom are what made Jeff Bezos and Amazon a success. How relevant are these approaches in today’s time, depends mainly on the business you want to apply them to. So, it may or may not work for you and your business, depending on your perseverance and willingness to bring a change.