May 22, 2017

Amazon Leadership Principle 1: Customer Obsession

Amazon’s many financial and corporate accomplishments are almost too numerous to mention.  A market cap twice its largest competitor – retail behemoth Walmart.  33% market share in all of eCommerce.  Almost $150B in annual sales.  Nearly $20B in operating cash flow.

These achievements are driven by a hard working culture guided by 14 leadership principles.  

Here’s the dramatic language Amazon uses to describe those unique principles:

Our Leadership Principles aren’t just a pretty inspirational wall hanging. These Principles work hard, just like we do. Amazonians use them, every day, whether they’re discussing ideas for new projects, deciding on the best solution for a customer’s problem, or interviewing candidates. It’s just one of the things that makes Amazon peculiar.

Notice how Amazon calls itself “peculiar.”  While some people might consider it strange for a company to use such a word in its description, I believe that its uniqueness is what sets the company apart from all other retailers and even many other hyper-growth companies.

Today, I would like to address the first principle – Customer Obsession.

Customer Obsession

Leaders start with the customer and work backwards. They work vigorously to earn and keep customer trust. Although leaders pay attention to competitors, they obsess over customers.

As CEOs / other leaders, how many of you come to work every day thinking first about your customers?  Where your passion for earning and keeping “customer trust” borders on “obsession”?   

In my search practice, I strive to improve the customer experience daily.  Additionally, as a “COO Finder,” I’m always eager to learn more about the changing role of the Chief Operating Officer.  Thinking about Amazon’s first core value made me question whether I could do more for my clients and the COOs that I serve.  Hopefully, it will have the same impact on you.

Please feel free to share your “customer obsessions" with us.


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