Howard Schultz’s Connection and Leadership

Bookmark and Share

by Michael Lee Stallard

A leader I know and much admire is Howard Behar, the former president of Starbucks North AmericaHoward Schultz's compassion and empathy as a leader and Starbucks International.   Howard tells about the time 14 years ago this month when he Howard Schultz Video Samplereceived a call in the middle of the night at his home in Seattle alerting him that three Starbucks employees at the Georgetown store in Washington, D.C. had been shot and killed, including an 18-year who had just recently begun working at Starbucks, his first job.   Behar immediately called Howard Schultz, Starbucks’ CEO, who was in New York City at the time.

What Schultz didn’t do, says a lot about his character.  He didn’t immediately call Starbucks’ public relations people or lawyers.  Instead, Schultz headed to Washington, D.C.  When he arrived, he spoke with the police then proceeded to the store to get the addresses of the three murdered Starbucks employees. He went to each of their homes, told their families he was sorry and shared in their tears.

Howard Schultz’s empathy and compassion spoke loudly to Howard Behar, a leader who has a huge heart. Behar left his former employer and joined Starbucks in part because the previous CEO he worked for advised him he “shouldn’t wear his heart on his sleeve.”   Schultz was the type of leader Behar wanted to work for, a leader he could respect and admire because of his courageous and compassionate heart,  a leader he wanted to give his best efforts to serve.

Howard Schultz’s heart was broken.   He showed courage by expressing the grief he felt. Doing so contributed to helping the victims’ families, friends and colleagues. As awful as grieving the loss of a loved one or friend is, it’s far worse to grieve alone. Howard Behar became part of the group of three leaders at the top of Starbucks who were referred to as “H20” (i.e. Howard Schultz, Howard Behar and Orin Smith).

Behar had an enormous impact on Starbucks North America as its president then went on to become the first president of Starbucks International where he led it to spectacular growth.  After Behar retired, he continued to serve on Starbucks’ board of directors.  Behar was loved and respected throughout Starbucks for his heart and passion as well as his work ethic, openmindedness and judgment about the retail business.  He became a Starbucks’ employee for the rest of his career, in no small part because his boss, Howard Schultz, had a heart.

One of the great privileges of my work is that I get to meet, observe and know leaders at a wide variety of organizations including businesses, government organizations, churches, universities and hospitals.  I’ve met quite a few who exercise frequently to keep their hearts and bodies fit for the long hours and no small number of them are also motivated by the desire to impress others with their physical presence, energy and competitiveness.

Regular physical exercise is certainly of value.  What many leaders miss, however, is the need to develop their hearts in other ways beyond exercise that are even more important:  ways that produce the character strengths of love, kindness, compassion, gentleness and empathy.  A leader whose character is missing these strengths may have power over others but will never lead from influence that moves people to give their best efforts and align their behavior with the leader’s goals.  This truth is expressed in sayings such as you have to “earn the right to be heard” and “people don’t care what you know until they know that you care.”

Research has shown that 75 percent of employees in America today are not engaged at work.  They show up for the paycheck but don’t give their best efforts.  Part of this is because they don’t feel connected to their leaders. From where they sit, their leaders appear heartless and could care less about them.  That’s why cultivating the hearts of leaders is especially important to getting America back on the right track.

To develop heart, we must care about and serve others, including the people we lead: our colleagues at work; our spouses, children and parents; our friends; and the less fortunate in our midst who have nothing to give back to us. Care about and serve the people in your life and in your community, and you will develop the strength of heart that helps you connect.

As you serve, take the time to ask questions of others such as “where did you grow up?,” “how are you doing these days?,”  “what’s going on in your life?,” and “what do you enjoy in life?”  Slow down and listen closely.  Find out about the career aspirations of the people who report to you and help them learn and grow in ways that advance their careers. If you’re a leader, you can develop the heart of the people you lead by scheduling a team building event where together you volunteer to serve at a local charitable organization and take time to connect with the people you meet.

I recommend Howard Behar’s book It’s Not About the Coffee and the book Carolyn Dewing-Hommes, Jason Pankau and I wrote on great leaders who connect entitled Fired Up or Burned Out.

This entry was posted in HR, leadership, leadershipskills, motivation, teams and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Howard Schultz’s Connection and Leadership

  1. Pingback: Howard Schultz’s Connection and Leadershi...

  2. successtv says:

    Yes, we have a DVD of Howard Schultz from when he started Starbucks: http://www.successtelevision.biz/howard-schultz-winning.html

  3. Do you have any video of that? I’d like to find out more details.

  4. Good way of explaining, and nice article to get information about my presentation subject matter, which i am going to convey in school.

  5. Pingback: Great Leaders: Qualities And Skills Of Popular Bosses - TEKKEK

  6. Pingback: Howard Schultz’s Connection and Leadership | BUSS4 Starbucks | Scoop.it

  7. sepide says:

    Dear Claudia,
    I am doing a research on Howard Schultz executive leadership methods for my Organisation theory course, do you happen to have any interesting text related??
    Tnx
    Sepi : )

  8. successtv says:

    You can search his name on our blog and see any articles on him. You might want to contact the leadership expert who wrote the blog, Howard Schultz’s Connection and Leadership. Also, we carry a DVD on Howard Schultz’s early life and the start up and growth of Starbucks : http://www.successtelevision.biz/howard-schultz-winning.html

    Good luck on your essay!

  9. svka says:

    hey,
    i have to write an essay about starbucks and its leaders and was wondering if you have got some more information about Howard Schultz.

    Thanks

  10. Pingback: Starbucks Howard Schultz leadership style engaging employees | Effective Leadership Skills Blog | Brain Science | Scoop.it

  11. Pingback: References | culcsinghj

  12. fadi says:

    hello! this is fahd :) im graduating from institute of management Sciences, Pakisan. im tasked to make a presentation on the leadership abilities and leadership style of Howard Schultz. i was wondering if you can help me out. i need to make a comprehensive presentation on him and his leadership abilities. kindly help me.

  13. Pingback: blog 3 « culcguptaa14

  14. Pingback: BLOG 3: Analysis of leaders in global business | culcobria

  15. Pingback: smalescale-business-ideas.com » Blog Archive » launch of entrepreneurship management e-learning program …

  16. claudia says:

    Really nice article. I am doing a reserch paper on Howard Schultz, and for some reason I just looked up Starbuck’s CEO since I love coffee. I am amazed by his story, to the point that I don’t want to stop reading about him. I read some pages of his book Pour Your Heart Into It, and it’s amazing how his life as a child was not the easiest, yet he has been hable to make it this far, and not forget about his roots and where he came from. Great leader!

So, what do you think? Do you agree with the article or can you add more information for our readers?