The 16 Amazon Leadership Principles: An Inside Look

Amazon is one of the most influential and successful companies in the world. A key driver behind Amazon’s continuous growth and innovation has been its distinctive company culture and leadership principles. Amazon uses 16 leadership principles that all employees are expected to embody and apply in their work.

Amazon Leadership Principles

In this post, we’ll take a comprehensive look at what each of the 16 Amazon leadership principles entails.

Customer Obsession

The first and foremost principle is to start with the customer and work backwards. Leaders are expected to make decisions based on what they believe is best for the customer in the long-term, rather than short-term financial gains. This principle urges leaders to proactively avoid moves that could hurt or inconvenience the customer.


Leaders should think and act like owners of the business across everything they do, regardless of their role or tenure. They take personal responsibility for all outcomes and do not make excuses, but rather fix any problems regardless of origin.

Invent and Simplify

Leaders need to strive for simplicity in both processes and products. They should invent on behalf of customers by envisioning solutions that can simplify and streamline complex tasks and workflows. The goal is to be data-driven in finding ways to simplify.

Are Right, A Lot

Leaders need to have sound judgment and make high quality decisions. This requires researching facts, exploring alternatives, and having the courage to make tough calls based on analysis. Being right frequently builds trust across the organization to take risks and fail at times.

Learn and Be Curious

Leaders need insatiable curiosity to fuel growth. They should constantly question, audit, analyze and experiment to expand knowledge. This fosters innovation and self-improvement at both individual and organizational levels.

Hire and Develop the Best

Leaders need to raise the performance bar with every new hire. They should uphold rigorous standards in selection and have the conviction to coach employees directly to help them reach full potential.

Insist on the Highest Standards

Leaders have relentlessly high standards for themselves and their teams. They think critically rather than accepting mediocrity or relying on past ways of doing things. Leaders need to expect excellence while providing support and training to pursue premier performance.

Think Big

Thinking small or incrementally limits bold innovation and potential. Leaders should create visionary, purposeful plans for the future, while executing step-by-step evolution to get there. Big thinking balances bold vision with pragmatic delivery.

Bias for Action

Analysis and data should inform decisions, but leaders need to avoid analysis paralysis. They are expected to take risks, make quick calls and move forward decisively. Deliberation is good, indecision is bad.


Accomplish more with less. Leaders should cut excess costs, care intensely about waste, and find efficient solutions. The goal is to produce the maximum output with existing resources and maintain a lean culture.

Earn Trust

Trust comes from integrity, character, transparency and demonstrated empathy. Leaders listen attentively, speak candidly and respectfully, and invest time in building trust with others. Trust enables good judgment calls.

Dive Deep

Leaders need to operate at high levels of operational detail, process mastery, metrics and market understanding. There is never enough data, insights or depth to sufficiently make decisions. Diving deep takes work.

Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit

Leaders should respect diverse perspectives but not get bogged down by ambiguity or lack of consensus. Once a decision is made, they are expected to fully commit without hesitation, caveats or complaining.

Deliver Results

Focusing just on work rather than measurable outcomes fails customers. Leaders need to be data-driven and measure progress in results achieved, not effort expended. They build mechanisms to consistently deliver quality results.

Strive to be Earth’s Best Employer

Leaders work to create an inspiring, inclusive and empowering work environment. They protect the company’s culture, value every employee’s contributions, and care about attracting and retaining the best talent.

Success and Scale Bring Broad Responsibility

As Amazon has scaled globally, leaders renew their goal to improve society and communities while redefining what is possible. The focus is on doing more while consuming less in terms of resources. Goals should be bold yet purposeful and pragmatic.

While Amazon sets high expectations for leaders, these principles enable the company to reinvent industries and make bolder bets. Companies seeking to build high-performance cultures can learn a great deal from studying and applying Amazon’s approach. What principles drive leadership and culture in your organization?