A Critique of the Amazon Leadership Principles, Part 1

Dennis Consorte
6 min readOct 12, 2021
What are your leadership principles? Source: Pexels

Amazon is measurably better at building customer loyalty and driving sales than most companies in existence. Much of this can be attributed to their leadership principles, which set the foundation for their decisions. These choices drive their algorithm, product development, and customer satisfaction methodologies. But no system is perfect, and the Amazon Leadership Principles are worthy of critique. Here they are, along with my feedback on what works, and what they might want to edit.

In this first part of a multi-part series on the Amazon Leadership Principles, I cover the first two of their leadership principles:

  • Customer Obsession
  • Ownership

Each section begins with a quote from the original document, followed by my critique. This is a work-in-progress and I acknowledge that my critique is subject to… critique. This is Medium, so please feel free to highlight those sections with which you agree or disagree, and leave your comments.

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 an ecommerce platform, Amazon is a unique in that it serves a broad range of customers and doesn’t have much of a target audience beyond “internet users.” So, this principle works for them. At other organizations, I would say that leaders begin with their messaging. Start with your vision, mission, and core values. Then, find customers whose interests align with yours, and that creates a framework for your target audience.

Customers are incredibly important, and they have many labels. If you have an ecommerce business, they are the consumers who buy your products. If you have a digital marketing consultancy, they are the businesses and other clients who you help to find their own customers. And if you are a politician, they are the voters, lobbyists…