Amazon adds leadership principles to prepare for the post-Jeff Bezos era


Amazon on Thursday added two new entries to its much-lauded “Leadership Principles,” a list of more than a dozen business philosophies designed to guide employees’ decisions and goals.

Many of Amazon’s leadership principles have existed since the company’s inception, such as “Customer Obsession” and “Invent and Simplify”, and are the foundation of the company’s culture. The newcomers have a significantly different tone and take up the topic of prominent criticisms raised against the company.

The first, “Strive to be Earth’s Best Employer,” calls on executives to “work every day to create a safer, more productive, more efficient, more diverse and fairer work environment.”

This is in line with what CEO Jeff Bezos set out in his last letter to shareholders earlier this year recognizing that Amazon needs to do a better job for employees. Amazon has been routinely criticized by employees for saying it has cultivated a brutal workplace culture, with tensions peaking in April due to a failed union vote at one of its Alabama warehouses.

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos

Mark Ralston | AFP | Getty Images

Another addition, “Success and Scale Bring Broad Responsibility”, underlines how Amazon’s status as the world’s largest online retailer and cloud computing company brings new challenges with it.

“We started in a garage, but we’re not there anymore,” says the new principle. “We are big, we influence the world and we are far from perfect. We have to be humble and thoughtful, even when it comes to the secondary effects of our actions.”

Amazon is facing increasing pressure from regulators and lawmakers around the world to use its size and influence unfairly against competitors.

Amazon hasn’t updated its list of leadership principles since 2015 when it added a 14th principle, “Learn and Be Curious”.

The decision could be one of Bezos’ final acts as CEO. He will officially step down as CEO on July 5th and hand over the reins to cloud computing boss Andy Jassy. Bezos will move to become CEO of Amazon, giving him more time to focus on “new products and early initiatives,” he wrote in an email to Amazon employees in February.