Amazon’s leadership principles

I’m a big admirer of Amazon as a company (and a holder of their stock). That admiration comes in large part from their relentless focus on good execution and their leadership principles are another good example. First I like that they are clear that everyone at Amazon is a leader – so the principles are for everyone. Secondly the list is a good one. There are fourteen items on it in total, and a lot of them are what you’d expect (e.g. think big, hire the best) but a four of them are maybe not widely understood/accepted:

  1. 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.
  2. Are Right, A Lot
    Leaders are right a lot. They have strong business judgment and good instincts.
  3. Dive Deep
    Leaders operate at all levels, stay connected to the details, and audit frequently. No task is beneath them.
  4. 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. 

It’s particularly important to remember 2 and 4. Fast paced accurate execution is critical to startups’ success and that depends on good judgement, honest and open debate, and then commitment to decisions.