There are sixteen leadership principles for Amazon. Each one of these explains what kind of leadership qualities they expect from their employees. “Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit” is one of the Amazon leadership principles that focus on courage and voice of opinion in a workplace.
In this article, we will be discussing how to answer the Amazon interview questions regarding this principle.
What does the disagree and commit leadership principle mean?
Having a backbone is an English idiom meaning standing up for one’s self. This principle doesn’t mean to disagree with anyone, but to ask a clarifying question to whoever no matter their position. For example, if a superior officer of yours is saying that there is only one right way to do something, then ask him why and suggest if there is another way that you would like to propose.
Showing your disagreement to something that others may agree to is nothing to be ashamed of. It is a matter of principle and you may have to take a strong stand whenever necessary. That is the major idea behind this principle.
There are some important questions you can ask yourself while discussing this principle. Do you always give in to the opinions of others? Do you fight for the recognition of your ideas or just give up when someone challenges you? What would you do if you disagreed with an opinion and you didn’t win? While answering these questions, you can understand that this leadership principle is more about interpersonal relationships in a work environment than anything else.
How to answer “disagree and commit” leadership principle interview questions?
Answering the questions related to this leadership principle is important to show that you can thrive in a competitive environment. If you are a person who feels uncomfortable while dealing with a conflict, you should prepare the answer for this type of question so that you don’t come off as a person who will run away from problems.
Here are some points that you can include in your answer:
- Your idea: Maybe explain a situation as a story where you had to stand up for your idea against someone and specify your idea during the time.
- Reason for conflict: You can then explain why the others didn’t agree with your idea.
- How did you convince others: Now it is time to say the methods you used to convenience the people who opposed your idea. You can easily impress the interviewer by describing how you used valid data to support your arguments.
- If you lost: If you were unable to pursue the person or a group of people to agree with you, then say that you committed. You provided a strong argument but you were ready to accept the company’s decision and move on.
Some major points to keep in mind while answering the question
Choose a complex situation
If you are confused while choosing the best situation to talk about, make sure to choose the most complex one. This will create a sense of hard work from your side and bravery when difficult things happen.
Explain the details of the conflict
Make sure to give the details of the conflict while you describe the situation. What was your idea and how was it conflicted? What did your manager say at the time? What was the data you used to support your argument? Answer all these questions while presenting your answer.
Make sure not to focus too much on the solution part and say very little about the conflict. Give equal weightage to both the parts while answering.
Don’t agree to agree
No one wants you to agree with your colleague just to avoid a conflict. Companies value people who are not afraid to share their opinions. Growth comes only when everyone puts their ideas together and creates the best one. It is the best for a company and hence you need to learn to express what you think.
If you lose, support them
Having your own opinion is one thing but you shouldn’t act petty if you lose the argument. You tried to prove your point and if the others decide to go with another decision, don’t undermine them and rather support their decision. This attitude is also a part of “having a backbone” where you can accept others even when it is not what you want.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Is the principle “disagree and commit” an effective way to ensure that a decision has to be made whether everyone agrees to it or not?
In the perspective of the company, the managers are paid for taking decisions after considering the risk factors and profit elements. They may not be able to please everyone in the long run but Amazon wants to ensure that everyone gets a say in it whether it gets mattered in the decision or not.
- What are some interview questions based on the “disagree and commit principle”?
Some common interview questions related to this principle are:
- Describe a situation where your team didn’t agree with you and how you dealt with it.
- Explain an unpopular decision of yours.
- If your superior asks you to do a task in a certain way and you disagree with the method, what will you do?
- Tell me a circumstance where you believed you were right but your colleagues and managers didn’t agree with you. What did you do to convince them? What was the outcome?
In this article, we discussed the importance of expressing your ideas no matter who is opposing them. If you know that you are right, it is only fair to take a stand. It is not a matter of avoiding discomfort but clarifying things so that everything gets done in the best possible way. A company like Amazon values such ideologies and the courage to support your arguments even when everyone is against you. It doesn’t matter if you win or lose the argument, the only important thing is to stand up for yourself.