10 leadership lessons from the dotcom Mogul Himself: Jeff Bezos

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His net worth increased by $6 billion in just 20 minutes which entitled him to the title of the richest man on the planet. Yes, I am talking about none other than the Emperor of DotCom: Jeff Bezos. There is nothing new in Jeff Bezos leadership style. But what we can learn something from this eCommerce king.

With a net worth coming around to $112 billion, Jeff Bezos surpassed Bill Gates in his quest to serve his customers in the most lucrative manner possible. Of course, thanks to his gigantic empire at Amazon.com, Jeff managed to be the first person to cross the $100 billion mark.

A self-made fortune never fails to turn heads. However, Bezos hasn’t always been the billionaire titan that he is today. Born to a 16-year-old mom and a deadbeat dad, he wasn’t exactly born with a silver spoon in his mouth, set out to become the CEO of an ecommerce juggernaut. But as they say, with sheer determination, you can move mountains.

So, here goes. The top ten leadership lessons we can all learn from Amazon.com

1) Give your employees independence

The employees at Amazon.com are their own CEO. They have a total control over their projects which give them more room to think, innovate, and come up with ideas that help Amazon grow by leaps and bounds.Of course, this means putting a lot of faith in people, but as a leader, it is compulsory to guide people in the right direction, rather than taking their hand and walking them through the path. If you want your organization to grow, you need to let people astonish you with their flairs. Give them work. But more importantly, give them the confidence to believe that they can ace it. And see how they dazzle you with out-of-the-box notions.

2) Convey a meaningful vision to your people

In his best-selling book, “The Everything Store”, Brad Stone (which fits perfectly) shares the grand vision of the company. Amazon wants to be the store for everything, A-Z. Jeff Bezos leadership style aspires people to find everything under one umbrella. And not just find them, but also at the most optimal costs.

This is the vision tenderly tended to by Jeff Bezos and it’s no secret. From employees to all stakeholders, everyone understands the science behind the vision. When people in an organization know where to go, they align themselves with an ulterior goal. A vision is something that directs all the people in one direction, leaving no room for discrepancies and fuss.

3) Customers come first

If you want to know the ultimate secret behind the success of Amazon.com. Heed the following quote by Jeff Bezos judiciously:

 “We’ve had three big ideas at Amazon that we’ve stuck with for the past 18 years, and they’re the reason we’re successful: Put the customer first. Invent. And be patient.”

Amazon is complimented as the ‘place for everything’, and the reason behind their burgeoning success is the stellar customer experience that they provide to their clientele. If anything goes wrong – from placing the order to the ultimate delivery of the product- Amazon always puts the customer first.

This crystal clarity also makes it easier for their employees to make a decision. With Jeff Bezos leadership style it is clear that the core of Amazon is their customer, which is why everything they touch turns to gold. The idea itself instilled employees to get obsessed with the user, which attributes to the success of Amazon.

As a leader, you need to do the same. You don’t just need to put the customer first, you need to put yourself in their shoes and gauge how they feel when they use your product.

4) Be patient

Right after the near-death experience of Jeff Bezos, he was clear about what he wanted from his life. The vision was impossible but Jeff Bezos persevered.

Coming out of the tangles of a difficult childhood, Bezos was forced to spend his early days on a ranch. With no outside communication, manpower, or moral support, Bezos was on his own.

“I helped fix windmills, vaccinate cattle, and do other chores. We also watched soap operas every afternoon, especially Days of our Lives.”

The burst of the dot-com bubble left the throngs with their jaws hanging open, but not Bezos. He was patient. He knew that he wanted to create an ecommerce portal where customers can get anything in their mail within 48 hours.

“I took the less safe path to follow my passion, and I’m proud of that choice” Jeff Bezos

This patience led him to earn a lot of criticism along the way. But everything was worth it. Every minute, every struggle transformed into an experience which led to the success of Amazon.com

5) Huge failure

If there is one thing that Jeff Bezos is certain of, it is failure. Right from the early days at Amazon, Jeff put a lot of bets on Pets.com, which crashed big time. He once even dreamed of creating a phone, which somehow went down the drain.

Jeff Bezos leadership style tells us a lot about taking high-end risks. From acquiring Zappos.com to the WallStreet Journal, IMDB, and even the Whole Foods venture was a total risk. These were out-of-the-box ideas that led Amazon to unprecedented heights of success.

“If you’re going to take bold bets, they’re going to be experiments, and if they’re experiments, you don’t know ahead of time if they’re going to work. Experiments are by their very nature prone to failure. But a few big successes compensate for dozens and dozens of things that didn’t work.”

6) Get obsessed with hiring the best people

The top management at Amazon is crème-da-la-crème. The reason? Jeff doesn’t believe in leaving any stone unturned. The recent hiring of Christine Beauchamp, the former global brand president of Ralph Lauren, as president of Amazon Fashion shows the amount of dedication Amazon shows for each and every project.

“Life’s too short to hang out with people who aren’t resourceful.”

7) Promote new people at the right time

In his book One Click – the biographer Richard L. Brandt shares interviews with the former employees of Amazon. Speaking with them, he shares that, “Amazon promotes extensively from within.” This gives people a huge incentive to work hard and build teams that require new leadership. This allows new employees to grow well in their current roles and promote the culture of industrious and creative work.

8) Grab the external trends

In a letter to his shareholder, Jeff Bezos embraced the “external trends” of AI. Amazon is always on the brink of capitalizing on new technology. With so many tech giants ignoring the change and failing to evolve, Jeff is more focused on chasing after a host of new opportunities.

9) Never kill your gut-decision making   

One of the main reasons for Amazon to move fast and break things was to empower small teams to innovate vigorously. Amazon’s one-click check-out was a game changer in the ecommerce arena, which was developed by a small team of people who were tinkering up a new way to help customers purchase faster?

Jeff Bezos leadership style is all about establishing a culture at Amazon allows employees to take gut-decisions and own up to the result. For better or for worst. What matter is if it helped the customer in some way!

10) Be short & specific

In “The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon”, he talks about the one thing that he hates the most: long-hauled powerpoint presentations. Instead of meetings, the managers and leaders at Amazon prefer a six-page written memo which narrates the whole agenda of the meeting.

This guides everyone to be concise with their approach to putting down ideas on the table. As Jeff Bezos said

“Full sentences are harder to write. They have verbs. The paragraphs have topic sentences. There is no way to write a six-page narratively structured memo and not have clear thinking.”

The short memos force employees to think carefully about every word that they are about to say. It eliminates fluff and adds real substance to company conversations.

Amazon has taken a lot of risks, and not all of them have paid off. But many of them have, and it’s because of Amazon’s sheer strength and leadership. By creating an entire company capable of taking ownership, Amazon has been able to both give employees control of their work and the market. Not every company can become a giant like Amazon, but every company can learn a few leadership tricks from its massive success.

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