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Howard Schultz - Former FORMER CEO OF STARBUCKS


One of America’s most successful businessmen, Howard Schultz, has given us not just great Italian-style coffee, but also unconventional business initiatives that boost employee culture. From providing health insurance and free college tuition, even for part-time baristas, to controversial initiatives about race and refugees, Schultz challenges the status quo of businesses in today’s society. He had his epiphany when he first stepped into Starbucks and realized its potential and the vision he had for the coffee shop.

Balancing Humanity and Profit

Schultz attributes his success and achievements to the balance of humanity and profit in the decisions made at Starbucks. As an example, in his weekly meeting room he always kept two empty chairs -- one to represent the customer and the other the employee. Every discussion and decision made would weigh the impact on these two stakeholders. His major success has been in motivating employees and empowering them. He had his employees participate in the equity scheme for Starbucks, thereby performing better as they felt they were working for their own cause. Health insurance and other benefits for employees increased employee morale, turning Starbucks into a very humane workplace. This humane work culture is what makes Starbucks unique. Though, Schultz points out that none of Starbucks’ activities are patented, anyone can do business like Starbucks.

Vulnerability and Humility for a Leader

Watching or listening to Schultz proves he is the embodiment of both vulnerability and humility. Being a leader in Starbucks, he has certainly used these traits to his advantage. Conventionally, vulnerability may be seen as a weakness, nevertheless, there are various kinds of leadership. When a leader shows he or she is human, followers can relate to the leader rather well compared to a leader who appears supernatural. This translates to employees having a genuine interest in following their leader. Humility is Schultz’s ability to empathize with his employees despite the authority derived from his success and position. Yet again, employees have reliability and rapport with a leader who has humility. Employees can see themselves in a good leader.

Did you know?

Starbucks is what it is today only because Bill Gates Sr. helped Schultz in 1987.