Avoid Clinging to the Status Quo: A Case Study on Amazon’s Jeff Bezos

Adapted from “21 Success Sutras for CEOs” by Professor M.S. Rao, Ph.D.

“If your customer base is aging with you, then eventually you are going to become obsolete or irrelevant. You need to be constantly figuring out who are your new customers and what are you doing to stay forever young.” —Jeff Bezos

CEOs must not cling to business models and systems that worked in the past, because what worked in the past and present might not work in the future. Amazon founder and CEO Jeffrey Preston Bezos (Jeff Bezos) long has avoided maintaining the status quo. He is a visionary leader with clarity in his approach to business. He turned selling books online into a multibillion-dollar business that has changed the trend of retailing forever. Let us look at how Jeff Bezos stayed away from the status quo to take Amazon to great heights globally.

Jeff Bezos is an engineer and entrepreneur who left his lucrative job as a vice president at a high-level placement firm on Wall Street to pursue his passion for entrepreneurship. He started Amazon from the garage of his Seattle suburban house when the Internet was growing globally. He is a dreamer and doer. Right from childhood, he was interested in computers. He entered into the e-commerce business, which was considered a risky move in those days.

Leadership Lessons from Jeff Bezos

Here are the leadership lessons CEOs and leaders can learn from Jeff:

Follow your heart. Jeff gave up his lucrative career and followed his heart to pursue entrepreneurship.

Be a risk taker. Jeff took risks and learned lessons from both successes and failures.

Be a trendsetter. Never follow the conventional path. Create unconventional ideas and follow them ruthlessly. Jeff is a trendsetter, not a trend follower.

Build a strong team: Jeff has a strong team of experts who advise him constantly about developments. He takes their views into consideration and makes decisions. It minimizes mistakes and maximizes effectiveness.

Be an explorer, not a conqueror. Jeff believes more in exploring and experimenting than taking on his competitors. He rightly remarked, “What’s dangerous is not to evolve.”

Emphasize customer satisfaction, not money. Jeff believes in adding value to customers and keeping them happy because happy customers bring more customers through word of mouth. It ultimately improves organizational bottom lines. He once remarked, “The best customer service is if the customer doesn’t need to call you, doesn’t need to talk to you. It just works.”

Strive for excellence. Jeff Bezos emphasizes excellence and delivers real value and a great customer experience regardless of the business he is in.

Emphasize efforts, not outcome. Jeff invests his efforts consistently and experiments with various products and services. He finishes what he starts. He doesn’t mind when something goes wrong as all decisions might not go well. When things go wrong, he learns lessons and explores and experiments further.

Persevere. When Jeff Bezos wanted to start Amazon, many people did not clearly understand the importance of the Internet. He struggled to raise $1 million to get Amazon off the ground.

Jeff Bezos and Leadership Brand

Jeff Bezos is an amazing international entrepreneur. But he did not get the adequate attention he deserves globally for his achievements. In contrast, less successful CEOs got more attention than him. The global media highlights inspiring stories on Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson, and other CEOs. I feel that Jeff Bezos is an underrated CEO in the world despite contributing his best. It seems he did not concentrate on building his leadership brand globally. People are still under the impression that he runs a retail store only. Additionally, many CEOs are busy with their business growth and expansion and don’t find time to focus on their brand building. That might be another reason for not getting attention. It might take some more time to build his brand as Jeff only founded Amazon in 1994. With the death of Steve Jobs, there is a leadership vacuum in technology. Hence, it is a great opportunity for Jeff Bezos to fill the vacuum by stepping into his shoes to build his leadership brand globally.

Tips to Avoid the Status Quo

Most leaders and CEOs have a tendency to stagnate when they have achieved a certain level of success. Instead, they must adapt to new trends and change with the changing times and technologies to energize their organizations. Here are some tips to avoid sticking with the status quo:

  • Take risks regularly.
  • Don’t depend on tried-and-tested principles and philosophies.
  • Don’t take things for granted. Marshall Goldsmith in his award-winning book, “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There,” asserts that the tools and techniques adopted to reach a certain level might not work at the next level.
  • At times leaders think that the known devil is better than the unknown angel. What they must do is to come out their comfort zone and explore options to improve systems and procedures. Steve Jobs is an ideal example of a leader who was always out of his comfort zone with his innovations and value-added products and services.

Conclusion

People are scared of unknown, so they cling to the status quo. Life is an excitement only when we follow the road less traveled. People think a bird in hand is worth two in the bush, which is not always correct.

Jeff Bezos is an unconventional entrepreneur with the Midas touch. He shows that everything is possible in this world. What is essential is to dream big and do big to leave a mark behind for others. CEOs and leaders should learn lessons from his exemplary and innovative leadership to take their organizations from good to great globally.

This article was adapted from21 Success Sutras for CEOs” by Professor M.S.Rao, Ph.D. For more information, visit: http://www.amazon.com/21-Success-Sutras-Ceos-Rao/dp/162865290X

International leadership guru Professor M.S. Rao, Ph.D., is the Father of “Soft Leadership” and founder of MSR Leadership Consultants, India. He is a leadership educator, executive coach, speaker, and consultant. He has 36 years of experience, and is the author of 36 books, including the award-winning “21 Success Sutras for CEOs” (http://www.amazon.com/21-Success-Sutras-Ceos-Rao/dp/162865290X). His book, “21 Success Sutras for Leaders (http://www.amazon.com/21-Success-Sutras-Leaders-ebook/dp/B00AK98ELI), was ranked as one of the Top 10 Leadership Books of the Year―2013 by San Diego University. He is passionate about serving and making a difference in the lives of others. His vision is to build 1 million students as global leaders by 2030 (http://professormsraovision2030.blogspot.in/2014/12/professor-m-s-raos-vision-2030-one_31.html). Dr. Rao serves as an advisor and judge for several international organizations, including Global Leadership Awards in Malaysia, Middle East Business Leaders Summits & Awards in Dubai, and Small Business Book Awards in the United States. His published books are available on Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/M.-S.-Rao/e/B00MB63BKM. Most of his work is available free of charge on his four blogs: http://professormsraovision2030.blogspot.in, http://profmsr.blogspot.com, http://professormsrao.blogspot.com and http://professormsraoguru.blogspot.com. E-mail him at msrlctrg@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/professormsrao

 

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