When it comes to customer service, a conversation is hardly possible to end without mentioning Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon. His leadership style is praised for being innovative and transformational, as well as criticized for fostering toxicity within the company (Noddy, 2019, para. 1). Both assessments apparently have the same reason that lies in the way he organized the relationships among the levels of the corporate hierarchy.
It would not be reasonable to apply a single leadership theory to Bezos’s activity since what actually allows for innovativeness is combining several ones. Thus, he is known for encouraging his employees to participate in decision-making, share their views, and think critically (Noddy, 2019, para. 2). Such a strategy is apparently based on the so-called participative leadership theory, which presupposes maximal involvement, hence is sometimes referred to as democratic leadership (Leadership theories and styles, 2020, para. 19-20). Along with that, one of Amazon’s key corporate principles tells that the leaders are right “for most of the time” (Jeff Bezos leadership style, 2021, para. 17). This presupposes managerial supervision of employees, which matches the definition of management leadership theory (Leadership theories and styles, 2020, para. 16). A combination of more and less democratic approaches actually determines the uniqueness of Bezos’s leadership style.
Both theories have advantages, mostly in terms of business efficiency, as well as limitations that predominantly regard the climate within the company. In one respect, Bezos utilizes intangible rewards, such as personal development and recognition, that have proved to enhance the productivity of employees more considerably than financial motivation (Keskes et al., 2018, pp. 271-272). Along with that, Amazon’s employees are not purely incorporated into decision-making but allowed and even encouraged to criticize each other severely, which may form a dramatically toxic corporate environment (Kantor & Streitfeld, 2015, para. 3). Furthermore, some staff members report an outstandingly rude attitude towards them “to squeeze unflawed views out of them.” (Noddy, 2019, para. 2) behavior of that kind is completely unethical, which is the major long-term disadvantage of participative theory.
Pressure is, actually, the most frequent reason why a range of those who have worked for Amazon are dissatisfied. Thus, a former employee Jace Crouch tells how “mentally taxing” it is “to do the same task super fast for 10-hour shifts, four or five days a week.” (Virzi, 2019, para. 4) Making employees overwork, assumingly, roots in the improper organization of supervision as a component of managerial leadership. Abuse is actually a big disadvantage of this style, resulting from the excessive influence of human factors.
Basically, the main origin of all the problems with the corporate culture of Amazon is Bezos’s desire never to stop moving forward. His approach involves maximizing resources as well as optimizing time and focusing on development, which formulation is readable as doing a maximum of work in a short while (Popomaronis, 2018, para. 7). By contrast, Jack Stahl, the President of Coca-Cola and later the CEO of Revlon, who also practiced participative leadership, found it quite acceptable to step back when necessary (Miller, 2021, para. 5). Normalizing failures not only allows for a more trustworthy relationship between the leader and the followers but also gives the latter more freedom, hence minimizes discouragement.
The case of Amazon shows how essential it is to stay in contact with workers and consider their physical and mental health. Leadership is not a search to boost efficiency but influencing a group of people to achieve a common goal (Schedlitzki & Edwards, 2018, p. 2). The efficiency of the achievement process correlates with the efficacy of communication, as the latter enables continuous feedback, hence awareness of what changes, if any, are needed and how to implement them most appropriately.
Jeff Bezos leadership style (2021) Web.
Kantor, J. and Streitfeld, D. (2015) Inside Amazon: big wrestling ideas in a bruising workplace. Web.
Keskes, I., Sallan, J. M., Simo, P., and Fernandez, V. (2018) ‘Transformational leadership and organizational commitment: Mediating role of leader-member exchange, Journal of Management Development, 37(3), pp. 271-284.
Leadership theories and styles (2020) Web.
Miller, K. (2021) 5 famous participative leaders. Web.
Noddy. (2019) Jeff Bezos’s leadership style and the culture within Amazon. Web.
Popomaronis, T. (2018) Breaking down Jeff Bezos’s leadership style: here are 8 of the most compelling lessons. Web.
Schedlitzki, D. and Edwards, G. (2018) Studying leadership: Traditional and critical approaches. 2nd Edition, Routledge, London.
Virzi, J. (2019) Amazon’s ‘toxic’ workplace shows why we need to prioritize employee mental health. Web.