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Leadership Style of Jeff Bezos

The leadership style of Jeff Bezos could be characterized as a transformational one and is aligned with such principles as innovation, mobilization, transformation, and motivation.

Some scholars characterize Bezos’s leadership style as autocratic and toxic, whereas others find it transformational. Gradinaru et al. (2020), Rivet (2017), and Breuer and Szillat (2019) write that Bezos prioritizes the satisfaction of Amazon’s customers. This characteristic corresponds with Hegar’s (2012, in Gradinaru et al., 2020) ideas of innovation, simplification, and transformation because Amazon brought online shopping to another level. Hegar’s (2012, in Gradinaru et al., 2020) leadership principles are also proven by the fact that Bezos encourages team members to discuss with an imaginary consumer their ideas (Eisner, 2016). Even though Sudha and Shahnawaz (2020) call his personality narcissistic and Matthews, Harbin, and Daigle (2018) claim that his criticism of employees is hostile, this does not prevent Bezos from being a transformational leader.

The previously mentioned principles of transformational leadership help employees stay motivated during changes in the organization (Faupel and Suss, 2019). Besides, the implementation of transformational leadership principles is a way to keep employees committed to the changes and personally engaged in the company’s transformation (Shin et al., 2015). However, the transformational approach is limited due to its client-centeredness and lack of emphasis on employees well-being, leading to burnout.

Transactional leaders facilitate changes in the organization with the carrot and stick method. The problem is that the transactional leadership approach fails to change the attitude of employees to the changes and maintain their motivation and commitment in contrast to the transformational approach. Therefore, the transactional leadership style is negatively related to employees appraisal of change (Holten and Brenner, 2015). For example, when the transformational leader Jeff Bezos became an owner of the Washington Post, he encouraged employees to search for new digital solutions that would make the newspaper more attractive for consumers. As the result of the leadership principles used by Bezos, this newspaper managed to increase its web traffic twofold within three years and stopped working at a loss.

Reference List

Breuer, S., and Szillat, P. (2019) ‘Leadership and digitalization: Contemporary approaches towards leading in the modern day workplace’, Dialogue, 1, pp. 24-36.

Eisner, S. (2016) ‘The “In-Factor”: Signature Traits Of Innovation’s Leaders’, Journal of Applied Business Research, 32(1), pp. 185-200.

Faupel, S., and Suss, S. (2019) ‘The effect of transformational leadership on employees during organizational change–an empirical analysis’, Journal of Change Management, 19(3), pp. 145-166.

Gradinaru, C., Toma, S.G., Catana, S. and Andrisan, G. (2020) ‘A view on transformational leadership: The case of Jeff Bezos’, Manager Journal, 3(1), pp. 93–100.

Holten, A. L., and Brenner, S. O. (2015) ‘Leadership style and the process of organizational change’, Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 26(1), pp. 2-16.

Matthews, B. L., Harbin, J., and Daigle, J. (2018) ‘The New York Times Versus Amazon: Is Jeff Bezos’ head still in the clouds?’, Journal of Organizational Psychology, 18(3), pp. 73-87.

Rivet, D. J. (2017) ‘Amazon’s Superior Innovation: A Study of Amazon’s corporate structure, CEO, and reasons behind why it has become the most innovative company in today’s market’, Honors Theses and Capstones, pp. 1-24.

Shin, J., Seo, M. G., Shapiro, D. L., and Taylor, M. S. (2015) ‘Maintaining employees’ commitment to organizational change: The role of leaders’ informational justice and transformational leadership’, The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 51(4), pp. 501-528.

Shin, J., Seo, M. G., Shapiro, D. L., and Taylor, M. S. (2015) ‘Maintaining employees’ commitment to organizational change: The role of leaders’ informational justice and transformational leadership’, The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 51(4), pp. 501-528.

Sudha, K. S., and Shahnawaz, M. G. (2020) ‘Narcissism personality trait and performance: task-oriented leadership and authoritarian styles as mediators’, Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 41(2), pp. 280-293.

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