The Builder, Innovator and the Narcissistic Leader: Jeff Bezos

Jeff Bezos has built one of the most known company’s in the world, Amazon.com. From a start up in a garage his innovations have taken an online bookstore to a multi -billion business. What is it about Jeff that has led to all this success? The question may be more what is Jeff’s leadership style and how it has worked for him building an empire.

Jeff has traits that help him lead his team to repeated victory. The Five Factor Model of Personality (FFM) is a good theory to back up some of his traits such as he is high in extraversion (i.e. decisiveness, self-confidence). His openness to experience on the FFM has enabled Jeff to take on new challenges and the ability to lead his team onto the next project. He displays conscientiousness in his hard work and ability to see an idea all the way through to the end. Regardless of how he actually scores on the FFM one can assume that he is high on the leadership based traits based on the Five Factor Model and this contributes to his leadership ability.

These traits can be envisioned as the archetype the builder. The builder type is one who see their vision and how to build to make it come true. They are very in control, high energy with serious focus and drive to make their dreams come alive (Northouse, 2016). Jeff is one who isn’t afraid to take risks and some of the project failures of Amazon could have been a result of this risk taking trait.  The builder archetype knows how to solve problems that block their success and Jeff has the ability to look outside the box to find solutions or what he likes to call, opportunities (Lampel, Honig & Drori, 2014).

From the early years of Jeff has used his financial resources in different ways than other companies. He is always focused on giving the customer the best and lowest price and has kept his company cost down. This “frugality and ingenuity, were embedded into the corporate culture at Amazon.com”  where they even use old doors as desk tops to keep the price of running the company down (Lampel, Honig & Drori, 2014). On the other hand Jeff spares no amount of money when it comes to a new innovation. He has the ability to motivate and create vision for his company to produce whatever the next idea is. The Kindle is a good example of an idea of Bezos, with his background in engineering and computer science he had a vision and stopped at nothing to create it.

This innovation pushes his skills ability in problem-solving, knowledge and the ability to motivate and influence those around him. These skills have been long in the making as from a young age Bezos was considered a child prodigy and graduated from Princeton summa cum laude and had a successful stint on Wall Street (Stone, 2013). It is his ability to influence others and people like to see their leaders as skilled and gifted, Bezos has the skills and traits that fills this mold (Northouse, 2016). Jeff’s conceptual skills are crucial for the success of Amazon. He is “creating a vision and strategic plan for an organization” which Amazon is a prime example of this skill he has (Northouse, pg 45, 2016).

The most important trait that plays into the successful leadership of Bezos is his narcissism. It plays into his strengths and even some of his dark side. Most of us think someone with such power to influence others must have a dark side and he is no different. He is known to push his team with such high demand and intolerance of failure that Amazon has had turnover and burnout. He also likes to be in control of where his ideas go and to be in the center of the action. This drive is also what motivates others as his innovations are inspiring and the focus and passion he has to see it through embraces his abilities.

Overall Jeff Bezos has a list of traits on the FFM and skills based on the modern model that make him an inspiring leader even with some bad traits in the mix. His abilities have helped him create one of the most successful companies and he hasn’t stopped creating. He is always working, pushing and innovating the next big thing and leading those who work with him to success of being a part of it all. He may not agree with a work/life balance but he is still nothing short of inspiring.

References

Lampel, J., Honig, B., & Drori, I. (2014). Organizational ingenuity: insights and overview. Handbook of Organizational and Entrepreneurial Ingenuity, 1.

Northouse, P. G. (2016). Leadership: Theory and practice (7th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Stone, B. (2013). The everything store: Jeff Bezos and the age of Amazon. Random House.

 

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