A shallow glance at any company, many-a-time conceals the role of a leader. When able and genius minds are hired and get busy with their respective roles in a company, it prompts one to believe that employees are everything that a company needs for manoeuvring its way to success! Careful observation however, throws light on a leader’s role as being invincible, like a potter who carefully shapes his artefacts, ora sculptor who artistically carves his stone statues! If the leader is heading a world-famous giant venture such as the ‘Amazon’, learning his leadership qualities becomes something to look forward to. Today’s discussion will focus on Jeff Bezos leadership style that has propelled ‘Amazon’ to a position among the top!
Currently, the world is seeing so many youngsters opting for entrepreneurship. It’s not like they wait anymore for some good experience in a steady job before risking on business. The youth draw courage and inspiration from new-age business leaders. Given the varied requirements based on different ventures, leadership qualities also vary. Here’s focussing on Jeff Bezos’s distinctive style.
Well, it is but natural for each one of us to wonder what circumstances in Jeff Bezos’s life led him on the road to being one of the richest people in the world! How and when did he become a pioneer in e-commerce, and the founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), of ‘Amazon’? What’s this little story surrounding the choice of this impactful name? Let’s quickly glance into his early life, choice of name, and journey of Amazon so far.
Early Life of Jeff Bezos
Born on January 12th 1964, in New Mexico, Bezos took to studying computer science and electrical engineering at Princeton University. He worked on the financial hub of Wall Street, and in 1990, became the youngest senior vice-president at an investment firm named D.E Shaw. Just four years later, he did something courageous! While most would not venture out of such a comfort zone, Bezos quit his affluent job status only to open his own online book store ‘Amazon.com’! In 2018, he had held the title of the world’s richest person.
Big things aren’t just born that way. They grow bigger from initial tiny little set-ups. Amazon was no exception. Initially, it was being operated by Bezos and a few other employees from his garage and later expanded to the summit!
When a Leader Chooses a Name!
A leader knows how a name deeply associates itself with a company. A name gives unique identity to a venture. It is the single most important word that provides the gist of the service(s)/product(s) a company launches. ‘Amazon’ reminds one of vastness just as vast as the sea-like river that runs in South America!
Did you know that this name was not his first seek? He apparently had arrived at a name ‘Cadabra’, from the magical word ‘Abracadabra’, to depict how online shopping could be a magical experience! When a lawyer seemingly misheard it as ‘cadaver’, he chose not to hold on to the name anymore! From his next choice ‘relentless.com’, which according to his friends sounded unfriendly, to finally arriving at the name ‘Amazon’, it took some research into choosing the name!
Amazon would alphabetically be among top, and would be an advantage as many search engines those days arranged links alphabetically!
Amazing Journey of Amazon!
Standing true to its name, Amazon.com captured the e-market in so many business sectors with varied products. From books, CDs, videos, online shopping of a range of commodities, to Kindle E-reader, drones, video-streaming component called ‘Amazon Prime’, healthcare unit, and aerospace company named ‘Blue Origin’, Amazon has a broad expanse of ambitious ventures.
Sowing the Seeds of Leadership Qualities in You: Interview Excerpts with Jeff Bezos
Interviews are eye-openers from where you gather some very valuable tips that come straight from experience and understandings of great leaders! Here’s what Bezos has to say to the young and aspiring youth. We shall consider his leadership traits and parallelly observe how he himself applied them in his own company. So we get a clear picture about Jeff Bezos leadership style.
Looking-Up to Your Role Models
According to Bezos, we all get certain things sometime in life, that we are lucky about and some role models that we look up to. We must make the most of these lucky gifts to make them work for us!
For example, Bezos learnt ‘resourcefulness’ and ‘problem solving’ from his grandfather, with whom he often spent time during childhood. His grandfather was self-sufficient and would fix every little thing on his own from treating his sick cows to laying water pipelines and building fences. Bezos too learnt how to try solving his own problems while working on the farm with him that eventually made him into a courageous and confident leader as we see him today.
What Start-Up Companies Need to Realise
In one of his interviews as he received the Axel Springer Award in 2018, Bezos shared what he had to say to young and aspiring start-up companies:
- Follow your curiosity and passion and make it happen what’s in your mind.
- Once you have started, work on how you can make it better, to the extent that you are never satisfied and keep working on constant betterment!
- Never pay more attention to competitors; instead, concentrate on your customers. Competitors can only create scare, but it is the customers who pay back and they need to be kept satisfied and delighted and the rest automatically falls in place, no matter what!
- Have firm belief that every problem has a solution.
- The leader should make sure resourcefulness comes from the entire team and not just the leader.
Jeff Bezos believes that rewards come in disguise of risks. A leader should plunge into some risks to be able to make a difference to oneself and to the world! This is because he believes that while tracing the track of a company’s progress, what a leader would often regret is not what new he/she implemented and failed in, but rather what he/she never tried implementing in the first place!
Bezos feels it is important that during this turning point of time when a leader decides to take a different route, it is almost a requirement that he/she gains the strength and support from family and team members!
Reacting to Criticism
Criticisms are part of every company leadership, be it for a start-up or well-established one. When anything new or innovative is being undertaken, then a leader must be ready to be misunderstood and criticised, as it is part of the game! According to Bezos, if one cannot tolerate criticisms, one cannot do anything new or interesting. The reaction to any criticism must be this way:
- Are your critics, right? Introspect and if yes, then do not resist making the change and do it with immediate effect.
- Your critics are not right, then simply move on.
Moreover, there are two kinds of critics:
Healthy critics: that are usually none other than the concerned customers. It is a great practice for a leader to go through ‘customer reviews’ as it is directly proportional to growth and betterment.
Self-interested critics: that are usually the competitors who do not accept the innovative methods adopted by the leader of the new venture. Many such criticisms need to only be ignored.
Ensure Trust with Customers
The punchline that Bezos points out as the most important quality that a leader has to stick to is ensuring trust among customers. No compromise in this matter can be tolerated. New product categories or extended initiatives for a company work well if you gather trust among customers. Any kind of mistreatment towards customers cannot be hidden and will soon come to light and spoil the reputation of the company.
Bezos has been a transformational leader boosting intellect and imagination in his employees. He encourages debate cultures so they get to prove their view points. One of his remarkable traits has been in that he readily incorporates productive ideas into decision-making.
Some, harsh traits in his leadership are sometimes expressed as he being blunt with employees at times. Some find it pressurizing. in order to extract the best views out of them. He introduced performance evaluation system to assess employee skills and productivity.
Never Interfere in Areas Where You lack the Expertise
Leaders should not interfere in sectors where they lack complete knowledge. it would be like getting into an airplane and offering to ride the plane by asking the expert pilots to move out! That’s scary business, he says, that may lead to blunders.
Let us consider the instance when Bezos bought the newspaper rights of ‘The Washington Post’ in 2013. He provided financial resources and the internet knowledge to double its profitability. It would be unwise however, if he tried interfering in the newsroom, because there are experts already who know their jobs better.
Be a Long-term Thinker
New thoughts lead to new undertakings. For this, the leader must be a long-term thinker. He/she must visualize the needs that will arise after another two or three decades and start thinking and planning on those lines for new project works. Such ideas bud from the thought of leaving behind a better world for the future generation. If the undertakings are need-based, they will gain momentum.
With Amazon, such a venture can be cited in their ‘Blue Origin’ project. The idea is to launch tourism vehicles for small space tours which can be re-used again. This project will make people comfortable with space environment. In the coming years, the idea is that people can start operating heavy industries outside of earth and keep earth beautiful, and purely residential!
Work-life balance is an underlined phrase in every company. This is what makes a leader and every employee work to their best possible ability. How can this be achieved? Having a good family life, spending quality time with them, taking a break for family outings, interacting with children at home, are what makes one feel contented, and happy. This makes you walk into office with tremendous energy. With tremendous energy at workplace, a leader or and employee has a productive and happy day at office. Again, you get to carry this positive energy back from office to home! So, it is not just one way, rather a cycle that has to be recycled time and again!
Conclusion: Jeff Bezos leadership style
Be stubborn on the long term vision but flexible on the details – Jeff BezosTweet
Those were some fantastic tips from one of the most successful leaders, that we just learnt. The journey for Amazon was not a bed of roses as one would expect. Challenges ranged from managing finances, to beating competition from retailers who launched their own e-commerce sites, to dealing with employee protests! These challenges only made Bezos emerge stronger as a leader to what he is today!
The most important take-home points are:
- To count on blessings and make the most of every tiny looking opportunity.
- Invest time on building stronger relationships with family members. They are the ones who provide you the strong and much needed support.
- Take chances on trying what’s new on mind, for that is what you will be contented with when you are 80 and look back at your life!
All in all, Bezos has been a charismatic leader encouraging the best from employees and simultaneously invoking different perspectives to make that difference! I conclude with one of his wonderful quotes:
“Work Hard, Have Fun, Make History!”
Recommended books to learn more about Jeff Bezos leadership style
Article Credit: Jeff Bezos leadership style
This article is contributed by Ms Preeti Tambraparni, post graduate in microbiology with a certification in clinical research. Her expertise are writing personal blog in life science related topics and health blog.
More articles from Ms. Preeti Tambraparni:
- Bill Gates leadership style.
- How to improve efficiency at work.
- What is team work.
- How to achieve success in life.
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