Jeff Bezos is the founder, president, and chief executive officer of Amazon Inc., a multinational technology company that focuses on e-commerce, digital streaming, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence. Bezos has established himself as one of the most influential leaders in the 21st century due to the leadership skills, behaviors, and traits that he has consistently demonstrated over the years. Under his leadership, Amazon has experienced exponential growth and is currently ranked as the world’s most valuable brand. This paper seeks to analyze Bezos’ leadership approach using leadership theory and identify his view and contribution toward innovation.
Leadership Theory that Best Describes Jeff Bezos
The leadership theory that best describes Bezos is relational theory. The model focuses on the relationship between people working together to accomplish change or make a difference to benefit the common good (Northouse, 2018). According to Northouse, the model emphasizes being inclusive and ethical. The model focuses on five fundamental components: ethics, purpose, empowerment, inclusivity, and process orientation. Hence, it emphasizes upholding values and standards of morality, having a common set of values and vision, empowering others to bring the best out of them, welcoming diverse perspectives and identities, and focusing on groups and how they can work as a team (Dugan, 2017). Thus, as per the theory, relationships are essential to leadership effectiveness. Comparably, Bezos’ skills, behaviors, and leadership traits align with the relational theory.
Jeff Bezos Skills
To start with, Bezos possesses excellent communication skills, demonstrated through how he inspires and motivates his employees to share his vision and work towards its success. According to Dugan (2017), leaders who adopt the relational leadership model must have plausible communication skills since their effectiveness relies on listening, sharing information, encouraging others, and making meaning of what they envision through words. Another core leadership skills that define Bezos is influence skills. Northouse (2018) describes influence skills as having superior ability to behave in a way that offers others the invitation to change their attitudes, thoughts, behavior, and ways to accommodate the proponent’s wishes. In 1995 Bezos founded Amazon in the garage of his rented home. Fifteen years later, he has grown the company into the most valuable brand worldwide by influencing others to share his vision, set values, principles, and process (Anders, 2012). Undoubtedly, this demonstrates Bezos’ superior influence skills.
Jeff Bezos Behaviors
Bezos’ most distinct behaviors that underpin his subscription to the relational theory school of thought include idealized influence and inspirational motivation. Dugan (2017) explains that idealized influence relates to the ways leaders exhibit their influence within a group. Relatedly, Bezos is deeply respected not only by his employees but also by his peers in the corporate realm. Additionally, he provides a clear vision and a strong sense of belonging, which encourages others to share his ideas (Sata & Kelly, 2016). As such, Bezos is a powerful force of influence on the people he leads and those who idolize him as a role model. Regarding inspirational motivation, Bezos plays an instrumental role in improving the performance and raising his followers’ morale. Wanasika and Krahnke (2018) elucidated that he utilizes both intrinsic and extrinsic motivational techniques to inspire and motivate others.
Jeff Bezos Leadership Traits
Bezos has many distinct leadership traits, but the two that most stand out are inclusiveness and purposefulness. Bezos is inclusive of other people’s diverse identities and points of view. According to Sata and Kelly (2016), Bezos appreciate people’s differences and acknowledge that they are valuable in unique ways. He is also a zealot advocate of equality and fairness as he believes that every person matters and can make a difference. The trait allows him to excel in developing talents and building robust relationships. Concerning purposefulness, Bezos has consistently demonstrated individual commitment to goals or activities in a manner that is hopeful, positive, and optimistic. He possesses the ability to collaborate with others to find a common purpose and work toward its success (Anders, 2012). Bezos’ positive and optimistic attitude underpins his purposefulness.
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Bezos’ Leadership Style
Based on the above-described skills, behaviors, and traits, Bezos’ approach to leadership chiefly inclines towards the transformational leadership style. Transformational leaders emphasize empowering and motivating their followers to innovate and create change that will facilitate their growth as well as that of the organization. They also influence their followers to embrace an established set of values, principles, and beliefs (Northouse, 2018). Notably, transformational leaders are keen on establishing and maintaining a positive relationship with team members. According to Dugan (2017), an excellent transformational leader provides encouragement, empowers others, sets clear goals, models integrity and fairness, inspires team members to achieve their goals, and provokes positive emotions in others. Relatedly, these qualities describe Bezos as demonstrated by his leadership behavior, traits, and philosophy.
Bezos’ transformational leadership style has been remarkably effective. It has helped him grow and develop Amazon from a garage start-up company to become one of the world’s largest multinational corporations. The style has been successful because Bezos has emphasized inclusiveness, empowerment, and purposefulness. He is also ethical-driven and process-oriented. Consequently, this has influenced, inspired, and motivated his employees and partners to share his vision and objectives; thus, dedicate their efforts towards desired results (Anders, 2012). As per Northouse (2018), an effective transformational leader influences others to share his/her vision, encourage others to inspire action, provoke others to think outside the box and innovate, and show genuine care and concern for team members. Bezos has effectively implemented these principles, hence the success.
Jeff Bezos Contribution and View towards Innovation
As one of the traits defining transformational leaders, purposefulness allows them to change processes and models by envisioning solutions, identifying goals, thinking creatively, and involving others in the vision-building process. Consequently, this facilitates innovation. Relatedly, Bezos is considered one of the most innovative leaders of the 21st century due to his ability to envision and develop new creative ways to address issues. Bezos has pioneered many innovative practices and products. For instance, his most renowned innovation is the practice of recommending what customers would like based on an algorithm that analyzes their previous buying patterns and compares them with those of other clients (Wanasika & Krahnke, 2018). In a time when most corporations focused on maintaining their competitive advantage through cost leadership, differentiation, strategic alliances, and defensive strategies, Bezos came up with a new creative approach. He emphasized investing in deeper customer relationships by leveraging technology; thus, he developed the algorithm.
Bezos insists that Amazon must place the customer at the center of everything they do and are always ready to take risks, which others may shy away from, for the sake of improving their clients’ experience. The innovative approach has seen Amazon enjoy increased success over the years (Wanasika & Krahnke, 2018). Moreover, under the leadership of Bezos, Amazon continues to experiment and innovate in many other areas. It is worth noting that Bezos acknowledges that not all innovations will succeed, but the most important thing is to keep innovating and trying new things. This philosophy inspires and motivates Amazon employees to try new creative ways and things. Bezos has created an environment that encourages a growth mindset in that people are not afraid to fail as they are aware the setbacks serve as opportunities for learning and growth (Schoemaker, Heaton, & Teece, 2018). Consequently, innovation has become the order of the day at Amazon.
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Therefore, Jeff Bezos is a transformational leader, whereby the relational theory underpins his leadership style. He demonstrates skills, behaviors, and traits that align with the transformational leadership approach. Bezos’ transformational approach to leadership has helped him achieve significant success as the founder, president, and CEO of Amazon Inc. It has also cultivated his innovative mindset, helping Amazon establish itself as one of the most innovative companies worldwide.
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