Are good leadership skills quantifiable?
Well, in Jeff Bezos’ case, they are. Bezos grabbed the title of the “Richest man in the World” this year, but it took him a lot of work and passion to get there.
It was his love for engineering and computers drove him to start his own business, and his first office was his garage. In 1994, he founded Amazon, which is today the world’s largest online retail site.
His idea was simple: providing everything to everyone anywhere in the world.
One of the best values that have been instilled by him at Amazon is customer care. Hence, his business strategies are customer-centric, not competition focussed.
As a leader, he believes ideas are birthed out of passion, not trends. He gave Amazon the following vision, back in 1999:
“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.”
Having clarity of where you want to reach and being able to inspire people by that is one of the mandatory things for every successful leadership story. But it’s not the only thing, naturally.
Here are the three concepts that Jeff Bezos, as a leader, stands by:
Stay true to the vision of the organisation
It’s very easy for a business person to say “I want to be very customer centric”. It’s even one of the trendy topics on business today, right? So what can a company do to walk its talk?
A very subtle but effective technique that Jeff Bezos uses in his boardroom meetings is the use of an empty chair. He does that to make his team conscious of their customer, who isn’t present but is the most important, the main motive, behind all that.
It diverts the attention of the board to customer care instead of formulating plans to gain leverage against Amazon’s competitors.
Another unusual way Bezos ensures that he’s being customer-centric is to deliver direct emails to the customers. And he has a public mail for the same purpose. This leads to effective communication and first-hand feedback, which help to get to the grassroots of the problem, done by being approachable and accessible.
These are a few examples of how Bezos daily adheres to the vision he has set for his organisation: interest of the target market first, profit later.
“We’ve had three big ideas at Amazon that we’ve stuck with for 18 years, and they’re the reason we’re successful: Put the customer first. Invent. And be patient.” he adds.
The greatest risk of all is to not risk at all. One of the things that make Bezos memorable among the swarm of billionaires is his rebellion against the socially constructed norms.
“Having a backbone, disagreeing and committing” is a statement that is a part of Amazon’s 14 leadership principles and, according to him, using this phrase can make a team twice as productive.
Bezos is a leader who believes that instinct and intuition lead to creative innovations.
He is known for being stubborn enough not to give up, but also flexible enough to be open minded when looking for solutions. He says, “one of the only ways to get out of a tight box is to invent your way out.”
“If you decide that you’re going to do only the things you know are going to work, you’re going to leave a lot of opportunities on the table.”
This quote by Bezos sheds light on how he, as a leader, advocates thinking outside the box. He is not afraid of being different, as he believes taking risks to execute unique ideas lead to innovation.
Amazon started as an online book retailer, but with Jeff’s bold ideas it now sells everything you can think of. Anything, from A to Z, as symbolised in their logo.
Jeff Bezos’ recently proposed to use drones to deliver packages to customers. This bold idea has been a point of controversy, as drones are Artificial Intelligence (AI), and are often associated with hostility and destruction. But this is perhaps why this gifted philanthropist wishes to incorporate them in a manner that is more customer-friendly.
According to him, “experiments are key to innovation because they rarely turn out as you expect and you learn so much.”.
Leadership isn’t something you learn in books. It is born out of practice.
“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
Jeff Bezos developed his leadership style and beliefs during his journey to turn a simple idea into a quantifiable project that impacts humankind for its betterment.
You can also find the leader inside you, all you need to do is take the first step, and practice is every day!