05 Jul How to Lead like Amazon’s Home Page
When my last book came out two years ago, one of my clients called me up excitedly to tell me that my book The Purpose Revolution was on the home page of Amazon. I thanked him for calling me but assured him this was not the case. He sent me a screen shot where he had put Amazon.com in his browser and there I was. I then sent him a screen of the home page when I went to the main site. He was surprised to see my book absent.
I explained to my client that Amazon had been studying him and knew he was a fan of my work, so his home page featured me. I on the other hand am obviously not as big a fan of me. In other words, while the core of the website stayed constant, Amazon had designed our pages just for us.
For the last year or so I have been telling leaders that our job is to lead our people the way Amazon designs its home page. While our core values and leadership philosophy must stay the same, we must customize how we lead to make each person on our team thrive. We must lead in a way that helps each person bring their most authentic self into their work.
This is even more critical today because workers say it is more important than ever for them to be their most authentic selves, and a recent survey found that less than half feel they can be that at work. Leaders who demonstrate empathy by taking an interest in the needs of team members retain talent, have higher engagement, and drive better performance. And leaders who are perceived as inclusive have even better outcomes, plus their approach encourages more innovation from their teams when people freely incorporate all their knowledge, skills and experience.
How to Lead Like Amazon’s Home Page
To customize our leadership, we must take the time to know our people especially in four dimensions:
- Know what is happening in their lives. Know what is important to them outside of work. The more we can connect to their lives, the more they will feel they can bring their full selves to work.
- Know what their purpose is and what they find meaningful at work. Once I know where a team member finds their purpose and meaning, I can appreciate their unique contributions by connecting the dots between their work and purpose by finding ways to customize assignments to their passions.
- Know what they need from a leader to thrive and also what drives them nuts! Find out how leadership and interactions with their leader can reduce their capacity to develop. When in doubt just ask: What do you need from your leader to thrive and what makes it more difficult for you to thrive? We also must find out their “love language,” which means what makes them feel appreciated and valued. For some it is quality time (e.g. coffee time, regular career mentoring), or words of affirmation (e.g. verbal or written appreciation for their work), for others tangible gifts and rewards (e.g. an afternoon off, a bonus) or acts of service (e.g. offering support by removing a responsibility or supplying a resource) and for others it is physical gestures (e.g. a firm handshake or a high five).
- Know who they are. Find out what makes them tick and discover the unique things that have shaped the unique viewpoints, talents and skills that they bring to their work.
Here is a simple homework assignment. Make a list of all the people who report to you and see how far you get with knowing each of them in the four areas above. Take time to explore the areas you aren’t sure of. Then ask a simple question, do they feel the way I lead is designed for them? If you can use some coaching and assistance in this area, check out my new program Leading for Empathy and Inclusion.