Amazon leadership principles

By Anas Khattar
Published on: May 30, 2023

What are the values that drive your work? Do they include a commitment to honesty? A desire to innovate?
What about the companies you are a part of? Do these businesses or organizations stick to a particular set of values and principles? Have these values been communicated, if established at all?
Having a strong set of values can pave the way towards success. Super successful Amazon has and operates by its own set of leadership principles–a set of principles referred to during company decision-making, problem-solving, simple brainstorming, and even hiring.
I have personally had good fortune to work with a number of executives within Amazon, and I can vouch for the fact that they live these principles every day of the week. These leaders set the bar high, then they constantly raise it.

Whether you’re interviewing for a job at Amazon–or crafting a list of values for your own business–check out the 14 leadership principles Amazon workers refer to on a daily basis:

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.

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.”

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.” As we do new things, we accept that we may be misunderstood for long periods of time.

Are Right, A Lot.

Leaders are right a lot. They have strong judgment and good instincts. They seek diverse perspectives and work to disconfirm their beliefs.

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.

Hire and Develop the Best.

Leaders raise the performance bar with every hire and promotion. They recognize exceptional talent, and willingly move them throughout the organization. Leaders develop leaders and take seriously their role in coaching others. We work on behalf of our people to invent mechanisms for development like Career Choice.

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 drive 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.

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.

Bias for Action.

Speed matters in business. Many decisions and actions are reversible and do not need extensive study. We value calculated risk-taking.

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.

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 odor smells of perfume. They benchmark themselves and their teams against the best.

Dive Deep.

Leaders operate at all levels, stay connected to the details, audit frequently, and are skeptical when metrics and anecdote differ. No task is beneath them.

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.

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 settle.

Strive to be Earth’s Best Employer.

Leaders work every day to create a safer, more productive, higher performing, more diverse, and more just work environment. They lead with empathy, have fun at work, and make it easy for others to have fun. Leaders ask themselves: Are my fellow employees growing? Are they empowered? Are they ready for what’s next?

Success and Scale Bring Broad Responsibility.

If you want to be successful in business (in life, actually), you have to create more than you consume. Your goal should be to create value for everyone you interact with. We are all taught to “be yourself.” What I’m really asking you to do is to embrace and be realistic about how much energy it takes to maintain that distinctiveness.

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