When it comes to overcoming obstacles, no one has mastered this feat more than Amazon CEO has, Jeff Bezos has. He is an entrepreneurial visionary, who started Amazon.com when the dot.com bubble was growing at 2,400% each year (Carlson, 2011). When this bubble burst in 1997, Bezos did not let this short-term obstacle affect him nor his company. He always thought long-term and knew that short-term obstacles could be overcome when couched in well thought out long-term goals. This long-term thinking paid off. Amazon.com emerged from the dot.com crash and now sells everything – including the kitchen sink. Three business facets help explain how Jeff Bezos was able to overcome obstacles.
Bezos is ranked as the #1 CEO in the country for the remarkable achievement of turning Amazon into the most customer-centric company in the world (Harvard Business Review Staff, 2014). Arriving here was no accident. Back when Amazon.com was known only as a bookstore, Bezos set about achieving the long-term goal of making the company a store that sells everything. He achieved this goal due to his keen foresight: when other millionaire entrepreneurs were hoarding their newly acquired funds, Bezos was using his money to build warehouses across the country.
If you dig deeper, you will find that the secret behind Amazon’s success is Jeff Bezos management style that relies on expectancy theory. This theory describes why one behavior is selected over another where the selected behavior presents a greater reward. In the early days of Amazon.com when the company was deluged by emails, employees felt overworked. Instead of feeling defeated by this, Bezos offered his customer service representatives a challenge: get through the most email and then get a reward (Brandt, 2011). The expectancy that he laid out here was clear: failure is not an option, strive higher, and achieve more. This expectancy is still held in the company today.
The previous example also speaks to how Bezos used a path-goal leadership style to guide his employees and company to success (Brandt, 2011). Each employee at Amazon.com had a clear definition and delineation of their tasks in order to reach daily goals, which subsequently became annual goals. This type of clarity sharpens the focus of what needs to be done. Though one employee’s task may not an entire company’s success make, a collective grouping of employees doing their jobs well does indeed spell success as it did at Amazon.com
Brandt, R. (2011, October 15). Jeff Bezos of Amazon: Birth of a Salesman - WSJ. Retrieved from http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052970203914304576627102996831200
Carlson. (2011, May 16). JEFF BEZOS: Here's Why He Won - Business Insider. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/jeff-bezos-visionary-2011-4
Cross, V. (n.d.). The Path-Goal Theory of Leadership in Companies | Chron.com. Retrieved from http://smallbusiness.chron.com/pathgoal-theory-leadership-companies-20568.html
Harvard Business Review Staff. (2014, November). The Best-Performing CEOs in the World - HBR. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2014/11/the-best-performing-ceos-in-the-world