Jeff Bezos Leadership
Introduction to Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos is the founder and CEO of Amazon, owner of the Washington Post and founder of the space exploration company Blue Origin (“Jeff Bezos Biography,” 2019, Para. 1). As of May 2019, he is the richest man in the United States surpassing Bill Gates with a personal wealth of US$159 billion (Liza, 2019, Para. 17).
Jeff Bezos was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico on January 12th, 1964 and was raised in Houston, Texas. He had graduated as Valedictorian from his high school. Since he was very interested in science & computers, he pursued his bachelors in both computer science and electrical engineering from Princeton University (“Jeff Bezos Biography,” 2019).
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Bezos had shown his interest in the business field at a very young age by starting his first business as a summer camp for the fourth, fifth, and sixth graders. After his graduation, he started his career at Wall Street, and as a result of his hard work, he became the youngest Vice-President at global investment management firm, D.E. Shaw & Co. in 1990 (“Jeff Bezos Biography,” 2019, Para. 2).
After four years, Bezos resigned to his job and started working on his business plan, i.e., to start an online book store. On July 16th, 1995, the online bookstore was officially launched as Amazon.com, and within two months, the online store was generating $20,000 per week. After a couple of years, Amazon had slowly started to increase the range of products that are available on its website, which had increased the company’s market share. During the tenure of more than 15 years from 1995 to 2011, many online stores had closed, but Amazon had increased its sales from $510,000 to $17 billion (“Jeff Bezos Biography,” 2019).
“You have to be willing to be misunderstood if you’re going to innovate” — Jeff Bezos
Bezos afforded to be misunderstood because of which he had taken many innovative steps to gain customer satisfaction. Over the past 12 years, Amazon had invested in developing multiple new products such as Kindle Fire, Amazon Prime, Alexa, etc. to expand their market by offering the premium products at a reasonable cost. Amazon is also working on an exciting project, i.e., developing the drone delivery service, which is called “Amazon Prime Air” (“Jeff Bezos Biography,” 2019).
Bezos also founded the Blue Origin in the year 2000. During one of his press interviews, he had shared a vision of humans colonizing space. He also promised that he would sell about $1 billion every year from 2017 to fund the Blue Origin. The recent announcement of NASA says that Blue Origin is among the 13 companies which are selected to collaborate on 19 projects to reach the Moon and Mars (“Jeff Bezos Biography,” 2019).
Bezos also entered the food business by acquiring the whole foods grocery chain in 2017. To gain more customer interest, the company started to offer in-store deals and groceries delivery service in less than two hours to their prime customers (“Jeff Bezos Biography,” 2019).
Leadership Style in General
According to Lussier and Achua (2011), “Leadership is the influencing process of leaders and followers to achieve organizational” (P. 6). Considering all the leadership styles that are discussed by Achua and Lussier, the behavior of a leader can be employee-centered or job centered (Lussier and Achua, 2010).
In my opinion, Jeff Bezos has a job-centered (customer-centered) leadership behavior with a charismatic leadership style. According to Lussier and Achua (2011), “A job-centered behavior refers to the extent to which the leader takes charge to get the job done. The leader closely directs subordinates with clear roles and goals, while the manager tells them what to do and how to do it as they work toward goal achievement” (P. 72, 73). A charismatic leadership style describes a leader who can inspire others, self-confident, holds strong conviction and vision (PMBOK, 2017, P. 65).
Jeff Bezos has demonstrated the above-mentioned leadership behavior and style since the launch of Amazon.com. Tom says that (Jun 6, 2018) “According to Bezos, the attempt to predict future trends, technological improvements, and deciding how these issues affect your customers are of paramount importance” (Para. 4). According to Tom (Jun 6, 2018), “Bezos’ is an exceptional executive with simple, but powerful philosophies with substantial leadership depth, examples of which include:
- being a thinker and doer
- seeking action when there is a success
- keeping standards high, etc.” (Para. 7)
According to Richard (n. D), “Strategic thinking is the ability to integrate different perspectives about ambiguous, complex issues with respect to the past, present, and future and to evaluate information and outcomes through critical, creative, systems, and ethical lenses” (P. 2).
In my opinion, Bezos is an expert in strategic thinking. He understood the importance of technology and envisioned how it could be used to change the way that people shop. In 1999, Bezos articulated that “Our vision is to use this platform to build Earth’s most customer-centric company, a place where customers can come to find and discover anything and everything they might want to buy online.” (Tim Metz, 2019, Para. 3). Bezos also believes that it is essential to work towards improving the products or services which the customers already like.
Emotional Intelligence is defined as the ability to recognize, understand, and manage our own emotions as well as recognize, understand and influence the emotions of others (Christopher, 2018, Para. 3). It is considered as one of the essential skills that a leader should have. It consists of five elements, namely: empathy, motivation, social skills, self-awareness, and self-regulation.
In my opinion, Bezos has very high Emotional Intelligence. He gives the utmost importance to customers and to the criticism or feedback which he receives. Tim Metz says (April 22, 2019), “Bezos is even willing to forgo short-term profit over long-term advantage in his commitment to Amazon customers” (Para. 7). The above statement goes hand in hand with Amazon’s product return policy. Also, Amazon is ready to refund the purchase amount in some situations where the customer can’t return the product after using them, for example. Screen guard for a smartphone or iPad.
According to Bill Benjamin (2018), “Jeff Bezos looks for people who can admit they are wrong and change their opinions often” (Para. 3). According to Bezos, if someone can accept that he is wrong, then he is the smartest person because it shows that you are emotionally stable and also open to the opposing ideas which you may or may not incorporate. In fact, Bezos welcomes his customers to send the complaints directly to him.
Jeff Bezos has chosen a path which has revolutionized online shopping and changed the shopping experience for people living all around the world. With his leadership skills, he was able to turn a small online book store into the best online shopping website in the world. He was so successful because of his ability to combine his vision with his actions and his customer-centric approach.
- Christopher D. Connors (Jun 1, 2018). The 10 Qualities of an Emotionally Intelligent Person. Retrieved from: https://medium.com/personal-growth/the-10-qualities-of-an-emotionally-intelligent-person-f595440af4fb
- Jeff Bezos Biography (Mar 7, 2018). Retrieved from: https://www.biography.com/business-figure/jeff-bezos
- Liza (May 3, 2019). Jeff Bezos’ Leadership Style. Retrieved from: http://www.leadershipgeeks.com/jeff-bezos-leadership-style/
- Lussier, R. N., & Achua, C. F. (2009). Leadership: Theory, application, skill development. Mason, Ohio. Thomson/South-Western. ISBN-10: 0-324-59655-3
- Project Management Institute. (2004). A guide to the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK guide). Newtown Square, Pa: Project Management Institute.
- Richard M. Meinhart EdD (n.D). LEADERSHIP AND STRATEGIC THINKING. Retrieved from: https://moodle.harrisburgu.edu/mod/book/view.php?id=493289&chapterid=81947
- Tim Metz (April 22, 2019). 5 Key Takeaways from Jeff Bezos’ Leadership Style. Retrieved from: https://pagely.com/blog/5-lessons-from-jeff-bezos-leadership-style/2