Is jeff bezos a servant leader?

Bezos demonstrates having the ten characteristics of a servant leader, which are listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualisation, foresight, stewardship, engagement and community building, when it comes to building Amazon into its mission statement to help make an impact and provide growth (p. Is Jeff Bezos the most important person at Amazon? Of course he is, but Amazon seems to be telling its new employees exactly the opposite. Susan Wojcicki, Google's first chief marketing officer and the longest-serving CEO in YouTube's history, is also often named as an excellent service leader. In fact, an Amazon spokesperson told me that the company uses an inverted servant leadership pyramid to suggest new employees who are the most important, with the company's founder and CEO at the bottom.

Asked about the customer emails that have become his favourites, Bezos forwarded to FORBES a note from a woman recounting how Amazon has shaped her life over the past 12 years. While there is no unified model of "servant leadership", over time different researchers have elaborated some defining characteristics, skills and principles of servant leadership that these leaders share. When it comes to servant leadership, it's not just your leadership skills that matter, but the trust you instil in others. Jeff Bezos is a long-term thinker; as such, he embarks on business projects with long-term plans in mind.

With this in mind, it makes sense that many customer-centric companies also promote servant leadership. It's a nice, warm sentiment, but no one buys it, of course, from the seemingly disgruntled temp who first wrote about it, to the analysts and investors watching Bezos' every move over the past two decades. More recently, however, social psychologists have also realised that there is another kind of leader, whose influence is gained through the "software means the servant leader". So stay with us as we share valuable insights into Jeff Bezos' leadership style, who he is and what makes him a unique leader.

Bezos asks thousands of Amazon managers, including himself, to attend two days of call centre training each year. In business management, the servant leadership style requires the leader to prioritise the needs of the team to help them develop and perform optimally to achieve the organisation's goals. Becoming a successful servant leader often also means being more accessible and down to earth when it comes to proactively solving the problems his people are experiencing. Bezos keeps a disturbingly tight rein on spending, eschewing colour printers in favour of older black and white models.

It is no secret that Amazon has been able to grow because of great service and countless opportunities to contribute, united by the strong and successful leadership of Jeff Bezos. This renewed Amazon is essentially a personal manifestation of Bezos, who is equal parts storyteller and dreamer.

Jason Klingler
Jason Klingler

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