How to Build Great Culture, Teams and Leadership

Starbucks’ founder Howard Schultz was recently interviewed for the New York Times Corner Office column about how to build great culture, leadership and teams.

Guess which part of the organization he thinks is most important to its success?  Marketing? Manufacturing? H.R.?

On teams:  

I’m aware of what it means to build a team. I played quarterback and I understand what it means to win, and that the guy throwing the ball or the guy scoring the touchdown only did that because the linemen protected the quarterback or opened the hole.

I think it’s so difficult to succeed today in business. The ability for the team to function together, to support one another, to trust one another, to have cohesion and to also have creative tension, is just mission-critical.”

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Howard Schultz and great attitude online video player

On being a leader: (While Schultz was talking about being a CEO, this could apply to any leadership position)

“I would say the following: Very few people, whether you’ve been in that job before or not, get into the seat and believe today that they are now qualified to be the C.E.O. They’re not going to tell you that, but it’s true. So everyone you meet has a level of insecurity. The level of insecurity that you have is a strength, not a weakness. The question is, how are you going to use it?

For whatever reason, people believe that when they get to that spot, they have to know everything. They’ve got to be in total control, and you can never show weakness. I would say one of the underlying strengths of a great leader and a great C.E.O. — not all the time but when appropriate — is to demonstrate vulnerability, because that will bring people closer to you and show people the human side of you.

Now, in order to demonstrate vulnerability, you have to make sure you have people around you who will never use that against you, because you trust them and they trust you. So the ability, behind closed doors, to have open and honest conversations with your team about the concerns you have, the fears you have, and the opportunities, is the balance that someone needs to succeed.

On creating a great culture:

“ I would say that everything matters — everything. You are imprinting decisions, values and memories onto an organization. In a sense, you’re building a house, and you can’t add stories onto a house until you have built the kind of foundation that will support them.

People ask me what’s the most important function when you’re starting an organization or setting up the kind of culture and values that are going to endure. The discipline I believe so strongly in is H.R., and it’s the last discipline that gets funded. Marketing, manufacturing — all these things are important. But more often than not, the head of H.R. does not have a seat at the table. Big mistake.”

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 **Studies in the field of Psychology have shown that the combination of senses creates greater retention and brand recall. It has been estimated that people retain only 10% of what they read, 20% of what they hear, and 30% of what they see. When these senses are combined, however, retention takes a dramatic leap forward. Those same estimates say that when someone hears and sees, retention jumps to 50%. Delivering video online provides another benefit – interactivity and touch. Stimulating retention by combining interactivity has shown to increase retention to 70% and in some cases up to 90%. US Naval Education & Training Command. Navy Instructor Manual. August 1992, p. 25. 

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