Leadership at Amazon.com Essay
Leadership at Amazon.com
Amazon.com is an internet giant in terms of e-commerce. It was incorporated by Jeff Bezos in 1994 under the name Cadabra. In 1995 he changed the name to Amazon because he decided the former sounded too similar to “cadaver” and because he wanted a name beginning with “A” so it would potentially be at the top of any search results returned in alphabetical order. Amazon.com has headquarters in Seattle, Washington but has retail websites across the globe. It is the world’s largest internet company. Jeff Bezos has a solid reputation that is appreciated by colleagues, employees, and customers alike. Forbes magazine touts his status as “our greatest living CEO” while his employees perhaps know him best for leaving an empty seat open at conference meeting tables. The empty chair is symbolic of the customer at Amazon.com and Bezos often refers to it as “the most important person in the room” (Hartung 2013).
While many leaders in retail recognize the importance of customer satisfaction, by making the customer an active presence at meetings Jeff Bezos sends a powerful message to his constituents. Some of the characteristics of Jeff Bezos leadership style are that he always challenges idle thinking, he makes customer service a main priority, and he continuously renovates his approach. Bezos does not accept that there is one truth about the way things should be done, even if that way has proven to be successful previously. An example of how Bezos challenges idle thinking also illustrates his stark belief that failure is an opportunity to progress: Years ago, when the bulk of product was written and spoken language the company hired editors to write book and music reviews then decided to use customers critiques instead (Anders, 2012).
That relatively small decision speaks volumes of Jeff’s commitment to truth and to customer satisfaction. A hallmark of Jeff Bezo’s leadership style is his innovative reinventing of any process, idea, or task regardless of how big or small it is. Bezo has a critical eye for improvement, and the intestinal fortitude to make changes where and whenever he sees fit. An example of this is Bezo’s solution to shipping fees. Instead of the expected shipping and handling fee added to each item at checkout, he invented a unique solution. He implemented Amazon Prime, a service that charges an annual fee for unlimited 2 day shipping on eligible items, of which there are thousands. This has significantly reduced the hassle of checkout for several reasons. Subscribing to Amazon Prime eliminates calculating extra fees based on distance and the timeframe for delivery of items. It also promotes a positive customer experience by not seeing totals continue to increase as tax and shipping fees are tacked on during the last few clicks of checkout. Lastly, it speeds the checkout process by offering one click ordering using previously saved information such as address and payment info.
A simple solution to the sometimes painful fees associated with product delivery has made a huge impact on the customers Amazon.com shopping experience! My own individual leadership styles and characteristics are similar to Jeff’s in regards to reinventing. Though I have never used that word to describe my approach it is in line with how I tackle and solve problems. I am never satisfied with one way to do things, and I abjure routine. At the forefront of my leadership style I am always considering my resources whether it be an innovative new process or lesson, considering the ideas my partner or team presents, and utilizing help in any fashion to carry out effective leadership. To be an effective leader, all of the leadership styles commonly associated with powerful leadership abilities would apply and they include Directing, Coaching, Supporting, and Delegating. The challenge for the leader is the flexibility to recognize the dynamics of the situation and be versatile in the application of the different styles. Consider a Mass Casualty Incident, or “MCI” such as the recent tragedy in Boston, the marathon bombing. MCI leadership would first be responsible for establishing command and Delegating others to oversee patient triaging, which is the sorting of victims by severity of injury or illness.
As Emergency vehicles and personnel respond to the scene, MCI leadership would Direct resources to the appropriate locations. Because there may be so many different levels of personnel at the scene of an MCI, leadership may have to Coach lesser trained personnel to effectively carry out necessary tasks involved in scene management. Finally, an effective leader in this scenario would recognize where Supportive care, resources, and needs of the team should be addressed. Some of the leadership characteristics I share in common with Jeff Bezos are passion, fearlessness, and confidence. Environmental or Societal factors that might influence my approach to leadership at this organization would be politics and inexperience. Even as I feel as though my leadership characteristics are similar to the CEO of Amazon’s, it would be a challenge to understand how they apply in a business model. In contrast, I have achieved efficiency and success with similar styles in a healthcare setting which can somewhat be comparable to business in the interest of organization, responsibility, and professionalism.
Even if I were in a different organization I do not feel as though my style or characteristics would alter. I may adjust them to meet the demands of the current situation, organization or environment but I would always be functioning on a core set of values that would adapt to my needs, versus my needs adapting to my values. Economic conditions would influence my approach to leadership affecting budget and finances. Like Jeff Bezos, I support spending a significant amount of resources dedicated to customer service and evaluations of what the customer wants. In times of a strong economy I would want to expand the Amazon product and consider a restaurant line to the online retail chain as a means of satisfying 2 venues: a retail storefront, and a new experience for fine dining. Diners would be able to experience the Amazon style of purchasing by specifically choosing what ingredients, cooking methods, and dinging decor they want by placing orders through the website at tableside mounted computers. Amazon Prime members would receive a discount or some type of special privilege, and orders would be delivered in a timely manner to the customer.
Amazon.com. (2014, February 9). Retrieved September 2, 2014, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazon.com Anders, G. (2012, April 23). Jeff Bezos’s Top 10 Leadership Lessons. Retrieved September 5, 2014, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/georgeanders/2012/04/04/bezos-tips/ Hartung, A. (2013, January 8). Why Jeff Bezos is Our Greatest Living CEO. Retrieved September 5, 2014. McGinn, D. (2013, October 18). How Jeff Bezos Makes Decisions. Retrieved September 5, 2014, from http://blogs.hbr.org/2013/10/how-jeff-bezos-makes-decisions/