Amazon Leadership Principles

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Written By Kevin

The insights I gained over the years help me lead and motivate teams to achieve business and operational goals. Allow me to share my learnings with you.

Amazon, a global business giant and leading force in the tech industry, has established a robust set of guidelines known as the Amazon Leadership Principles. These principles are designed to foster a culture of high standards, innovation, and customer obsession within the organization. 

Rooted in the vision of its founder Jeff Bezos, these guidelines have been instrumental in shaping the company’s strategic approach and decision-making processes. As Amazon continues to expand and evolve under the leadership of CEO Andy Jassy, these principles remain central to its mission and ethic.

The 16 amazon Leadership Principles

Here is the list of the 16 leadership principles as listed on Amazon’s official corporate website:

  1. Customer Obsession: Leaders prioritize customers and work tirelessly to earn and maintain their trust.
  2. Ownership: Leaders think long-term, act on behalf of the entire company, and never say “that’s not my job.”
  3. Invent and Simplify: Leaders encourage innovation and always look for ways to simplify, even if it means being misunderstood for a while.
  4. Are Right, A Lot: Leaders have strong judgment, seek diverse perspectives, and work to confirm their beliefs.
  5. Learn and Be Curious: Leaders continuously learn, improve themselves, and explore new possibilities.
  6. Hire and Develop the Best: Leaders raise the performance bar with each hire and promotion, recognize exceptional talent, and invest in developing others.
  7. Insist on the Highest Standards: Leaders maintain high standards, continuously raise the bar, and ensure problems are fixed and stay fixed.
  8. Think Big: Leaders create and communicate bold directions that inspire results and look for innovative ways to serve customers.
  9. Bias for Action: Leaders recognize that speed matters and many decisions are reversible, so they value calculated risk-taking.
  10. Frugality: Leaders accomplish more with less, as constraints breed resourcefulness and invention.
  11. Earn Trust: Leaders listen attentively, speak candidly, treat others respectfully, and are vocally self-critical.
  12. Dive Deep: Leaders stay connected to details, audit frequently, and are skeptical when metrics and anecdotes differ.
  13. Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit: Leaders respectfully challenge decisions, have conviction, and commit wholly once a decision is made.
  14. Deliver Results: Leaders focus on key inputs and deliver them with the right quality and timeliness, never settling despite setbacks.
  15. Strive to be Earth’s Best Employer: Leaders create a safe, productive, diverse, and just work environment while leading with empathy and making work fun.
  16. Success and Scale Bring Broad Responsibility: Leaders are humble and thoughtful about their actions’ impact, striving to be better for customers, employees, partners, and the world.

These Amazon Leadership Principles encompass a range of behaviors and mindsets that are expected of its leaders and employees. They serve as a compass for daily operations and long-term planning, ensuring that everyone at Amazon is aligned with the company’s objectives. 

From encouraging calculated risk-taking to maintaining an unwavering commitment to customers, these principles reflect the ethos that has driven Amazon’s success.

Amazon expects its staff to embody these values, using them as a basis for recruitment, performance assessments, and professional development. Through these principles, Amazon promotes a culture of leadership that empowers individuals at all levels to contribute to the company’s ongoing innovation and excellence.

Origins and Evolution of Amazon’s Leadership Principles

Amazon’s Leadership Principles have shaped its distinctive culture and strategic decision-making processes. Stemming from its early days, these principles continue to guide the company through significant transformations and evolution.

Early Concepts and Implementation

The initial set of principles at Amazon were conceived by founder Jeff Bezos and his team as a framework to maintain a customer-centric approach in all company activities. 

From the outset, these principles encapsulated a vision for innovation and excellence, steering Amazon from merely an online bookstore to a global e-commerce and cloud computing leader. They instilled a culture of high standards and ownership among employees, ensuring that every decision aligned with the company’s core values.

Adaptations and Current Form

As Amazon expanded, the Leadership Principles underwent thoughtful adaptations to match the company’s growing complexity and diverse workforce. The current iteration enumerates values that govern actions and serve as a criterion for hiring and performance assessments. 

With principles like Customer Obsession and Invent and Simplify, Amazon sustains its relevance and innovative edge in a transformative industry. 

These living documents reflect the company’s adaptive culture and its unwavering commitment to its original values, even as it embraces change and new challenges.

The Amazon Way: Amazon's Leadership Principles The Amazon Way: Amazon's Leadership Principles

John Rossman analyses Amazon's Leadership Principles in detail and how they apply to the company's success. Learn from the company that redefined e-commerce and management through a unique blend of leadership, creativity, and relentless customer focus. This book gives you the blueprint to Amazon's success.

We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
06/25/2024 04:47 pm GMT

Core Principles and Their Impact on Amazon’s Culture

Amazon’s culture is deeply rooted in its leadership principles, which dictate every aspect of the company’s operations, from decision-making to customer interaction. These foundational beliefs have propelled Amazon to the forefront of global commerce and have enshrined its reputation as an innovative and customer-focused company.

Customer-Centric Approach

At the heart of Amazon’s success is the unwavering Customer Obsession. They prioritize the customer above all else, believing that if they work backwards from the customer’s needs, success will follow. 

This principle ensures that the customer’s voice is the loudest in every room and in every decision, large or small.

Commitment to Innovation

Amazon’s principle of Invent and Simplify highlights their commitment to innovation. They strive to create novel solutions, simplifying complex tasks for customers and employees alike. 

Furthermore, the Learn and Be Curious tenet encourages employees to continually seek knowledge and improve themselves, fostering an environment where creative ideas flourish.

Embracing Risk and Decision-Making

Amazonians are encouraged to have a Bias for Action and to Think Big, which means taking calculated risks and being comfortable with occasional failures. 

This is tied in closely with the principle to Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit, where employees are expected to challenge decisions when they disagree, but fully commit once a decision is determined. 

These approaches are instrumental in maintaining Amazon’s high-velocity, high-risk environment that fuels growth and continuous improvement.

Operational Excellence Through Leadership Principles

In pursuit of operational excellence, Amazon underscores the relentless adherence to high performance standards and the alignment of teams to core metrics. These are foundational to the company’s ability to deliver quality products consistently.

Maintaining High Performance Standards

Amazon’s approach to maintaining high performance standards is integral to its philosophy. This includes a practice known as Dive Deep, which encourages leaders to delve into the details of their operations, no matter how granular. 

They are expected to operate at all levels, remain connected to the details, audit frequently, and be skeptical when metrics differ from the actual customer experience. 

This deep understanding helps to maintain the quality and performance that Amazon is known for.

Aligning Teams to Key Metrics

A central part of achieving operational excellence at Amazon is aligning teams with key metrics. 

These metrics are meticulously chosen to reflect the customer’s experience and the company’s operational health. 

Employees are taught to focus on these metrics with a clear understanding that their work directly impacts customer satisfaction. Through this focus, teams can strive for excellence and ensure a high standard of quality in their products and services.

Building Trust and Fostering Communication

Amazon’s leadership framework emphasizes building trust and fostering communication as pivotal elements in its corporate structure and operations. These principles underpin much of their success and are integral to their leadership approach.

Leadership and Trust-building Strategies

Leaders at Amazon are expected to earn trust by demonstrating integrity and making decisions that align with the best interests of both customers and employees. They prioritize honesty in their interactions and decisions, ensuring transparency and accountability.

Leaders cultivate a respectful work environment by listening attentively to team members. By giving full attention, they encourage open dialogue and make it clear that every voice is valued. 

This practice boosts morale, but also leads to more effective problem-solving, as diverse perspectives are considered.

Effective Communication and Candor

Amazon believes that clear and honest communication is vital, and they urge employees to speak candidly, share thoughts, and provide constructive feedback to promote continuous improvement. By doing so, leaders and employees can address issues directly and foster a culture of open communication.

The ability to understand and share the feelings of another is another cornerstone in Amazon’s communication ethos. Demonstrating empathy builds deeper connections between team members, helps address concerns more effectively, and reinforces a supportive work environment.

Driving Results and Encouraging Ownership

Amazon’s leadership principles underscore the essential need for leaders to take ownership and deliver results, aiming for long-term value over short-term gains. These principles articulate a clear expectation: leaders must be accountable and daring, with a steadfast focus on the future.

Accountability and Delivering on Commitments

Leaders at Amazon are expected to take full responsibility for their teams’ commitments, ensuring deliverables are completed efficiently and effectively. 

Accountability is not just about meeting deadlines but also about the quality of work. They must deliver results by assessing and addressing risks, diving deep into projects, and continuously raising the bar to exceed performance metrics. 

Amazonians are committed to upholding the standards they have established for themselves. They feel a strong sense of responsibility to meet these standards. But, they don’t just aim to meet these standards. They also actively work towards exceeding them. This encompasses two of the Amazon leadership principles, being:

  • Take Ownership: Embrace responsibility for tasks and goals.
  • Deliver Results: Demonstrate a track record of meeting and surpassing objectives.

Fostering a Sense of Long-Term Ownership

The cultivation of long-term ownership at Amazon translates to thinking beyond immediate tasks. In fact, leadership is charged with steering efforts in a manner that adds sustained long-term value to the company as a whole. 

This involves certain calculated risks, which means deciding when to push boundaries for innovation and when to hold steady. 

Making decisions with the future in mind also means considering the broader impact on the company, customers, and stakeholders.

  • Calculated Risk: Weigh the potential gain against the risks when making decisions.
  • Long-Term Value: Make choices that benefit the organization in the long run, even if they require short-term trade-offs.

Strategies for Talent Development and Standards

Amazon sets a high bar for talent development and maintains uncompromising standards throughout its operations. They focus on hiring and nurturing talent, setting high-performance standards, and providing coaching and career development opportunities.

Recruitment and Hiring Philosophy

Amazon’s approach to hiring is centered on identifying individuals who can embrace and extend the company’s culture. The idea is to hire and develop the best talent, which includes a rigorous interview process designed to measure potential employees against Amazon’s Leadership Principles. 

The company is committed to maintaining a high performance bar in recruitment, ensuring that new hires are not only competent but also a cultural fit.

Career Growth and Opportunities

Once onboard, employees are given numerous growth paths and learning opportunities. Amazon’s Career Choice program is one example, where they invest in their employees’ career development. 

Coaching and mentorship are also integral to their philosophy, with a continuous feedback loop to help individuals develop their skills. Leadership at Amazon is expected to take an active role in developing future leaders, setting high standards and promoting innovation in career progression.

The Amazon Way: Amazon's Leadership Principles The Amazon Way: Amazon's Leadership Principles

John Rossman analyses Amazon's Leadership Principles in detail and how they apply to the company's success. Learn from the company that redefined e-commerce and management through a unique blend of leadership, creativity, and relentless customer focus. This book gives you the blueprint to Amazon's success.

We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
06/25/2024 04:47 pm GMT

Amazon’s Vision for Global Impact

Amazon’s vision extends beyond commerce, aiming to leverage its success and scale to foster sustainable practices and positively influence communities on both local and global scales.

Building Sustainable Practices

Amazon has committed to the betterment of the planet by investing in renewable energy and aiming to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2040. 

This initiative, known as The Climate Pledge, underscores their goal to become Earth’s Best Employer and to create a more just work environment

They seek to improve operational sustainability through electrification of their delivery fleet, sustainable packaging, and energy-efficient operational processes.

Influence on Local and Global Communities

Understanding its broad responsibility, Amazon endeavors to impact local communities and future generations by creating jobs with competitive wages, benefits, and opportunities for growth. 

As they strive to be Earth’s best employer, their approach goes beyond traditional metrics, focusing also on employee well-being and satisfaction. Through community outreach programs and technology, they support local businesses and work to bridge the digital divide, thereby driving towards a more equitable global community.


In conclusion, Amazon’s Leadership Principles have been instrumental in shaping the company’s culture, guiding its strategic decisions, and driving its remarkable growth. 

These principles, deeply rooted in the vision of founder Jeff Bezos, have evolved to reflect the company’s expanding scope and influence. They serve as a compass for daily operations and long-term planning, ensuring that everyone at Amazon is aligned with the company’s customer-centric approach, commitment to innovation, and pursuit of operational excellence. 

By creating a culture of trust, ownership, and continuous improvement, Amazon has positioned itself as a global leader in commerce and technology. As the company continues to grow and adapt to new challenges, its Leadership Principles will undoubtedly remain at the core of its success, guiding its efforts to positively impact customers, employees, and communities worldwide.

2 thoughts on “Amazon Leadership Principles”

  1. Hi Kevin. Great overview. The way you’ve outlined each principle and its impact on the company’s culture and operations is quite insightful. Question? How do you think smaller businesses can adapt these principles to their own operations? Looking forward to your thoughts on this.

    • Thank you for your kind words Davon. I’m glad you found the article insightful. Smaller businesses can indeed benefit from adopting Amazon’s Leadership Principles. These principles, when scaled down and tailored to fit the unique challenges of smaller enterprises, can significantly enhance their operational efficiency and customer satisfaction. Happy to discuss this further if you have specific areas in mind.


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