Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Seven Amazonian Leadership Principles

We, the authors of The Amazonian Manifesto, submit the following seven principles of leadership as the embodiment of what it truly means to be an Amazonian. These principles are inspired by, and based on, the current official Amazon leadership principles, but they also articulate new dimensions and important values whose absence from the current principles has created an unhealthy and unsustainable working environment.

#1: Obsess about the Customer

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.

#2: Obsess about the Employee

Leaders understand that customer obsession doesn't just happen.  Leaders know that ensuring that an employee loves coming to work every day is the BEST guarantee that customer obsession will happen, and happen every day. It is employees who obsess about customers, not cold processes or tyrannical executives.  If an employee decides not to obsess about a customer, no matter how elaborate the processes or how severe and scrutinizing management, customer obsession will not happen. 

#3: Obsess about the Partner

Leaders understand that Amazon's backbone for growth is its ecosystem of partners.  Without its partners, Amazon would deliver a feeble shadow of the value it delivers today.  Leaders understand that partners are customers too and therefore deserve as much care and solicitude as any end customer does.

#4: 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. That is why leaders do their best to ensure the success of their reports and consider it a professional failure on their part when they fail to do so.

#5: Own and Fix

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". And above all, they own their failures and work hard to correct them.  Leaders are loathe to hide behind thick concepts such as "cultural fit" or "peculiar ways".  Leaders want to get to the bottom of what is not working and they make it their priority to fix and learn, not obfuscate, blame and move on.

#6 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.

#7 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.   They Think Big, Insist on the Highest Standards, are Biased for Action, and love to Dive Deep.  They have a solid Back Bone and they are not afraid to disagree.  They point out what doesn't work, advocate for what they believe is right, are not easily cowed by the titled and the powerful.  They believe in the strength of their principles and the integrity of their data and their thinking and back down only when they have been convinced that theirs isn't the better way.  But as soon as they realize that they are wrong, they will admit their error and are Vocally Self Critical.   Because of their intellectual courage and principled commitment to the best, they are Right a Lot and thereby Own the Trust of Others.

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