An Analysis of Nordstrom and Starbuck’s Mission Statements as a Guide to Servant Leadership

The spread, permeation, and application of the servant leadership model as a philosophy that is now widely acclaimed remains a baffling contemporary development. From its humble beginnings as a concept fashioned by Robert K. Green, it now boasts a considerable following among leading corporations and Fortune 500 companies. This sudden paradigm shift in matters leadership was a breath of fresh air and represented a positive change in how individuals holding the reins of power promoted a particular organizational behavior. It emphasizes leaders expressing natural feelings to serve others, instead of being served first and avoids putting the acquisition of material benefits as a priority (Hammer, 2012, p. 67). In such a scenario, the leader focuses solely on ensuring that the needs of those they are serving are always met and will still be ready to go above and beyond what is required of them to make sure that consumers are satisfied. The goal is to better the lives of those being served by ensuring that they become autonomous, freer and, in other cases, healthier than they were. To actualize the servant leadership model, a majority of leading corporations have taken to fashioning this new modus operandi into their mission statements, to make it easier for both their employees and clientele to comprehend their motives. The ultimate goal is to make sure that people from the community where they operate morph into a better version of their current selves with the company playing a leading role. The purpose of this research paper is therefore to provide an in-depth analysis of Nordstrom and Starbuck’s mission statements and how they are utilized as a guide towards servant leadership.

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Nordstrom and Starbucks are similar in the model of leadership adopted and how it is then woven around their mission statements. Firstly, Nordstrom has a rich history going back to the late 19th century when its founder, John C. Nordstrom landed in New York from Sweden with nothing more than a dream and five dollars. After traversing the Midwest in search of fortune, he was finally rewarded for his boldness and had earned $13,000. It was at this point that he decided to invest this money in business by partnering with an associate to start a shoe store. From its humble beginnings in 1901, the conglomerate now boasts of having more than 260 stores all across the United States with other expansions slated to take place shortly (“AMA-TV: Starbucks, Marketing Campaigns, and Way5 Innovation,” n.d.). The store’s mission statement spells out its intention of providing the highest possible level of service and quality while making certain that customers get value for their money. At the center of their vision statement is their commitment to serving their clients in the best way possible while establishing lifelong relationships. On the other hand, Starbuck’s success has been widely linked to Howard Schultz and his exceptional leadership style. In reality, he is responsible for the heights reached by the company and is now the largest coffee retailer globally. Leadership here involves placing employees at the center of operations and being courteous enough to remunerate them handsomely for the efforts made when carrying out their duties. Its mission statement emphasizes inspiring those that they serve while also nurturing the human spirit.

Both Nordstrom and Starbucks are similar in their approach to servant leadership, evident from their mission statements. Nordstrom seeks to provide customer-centered services, which is an indication that the company aspires to serve those it comes into contact with, rather than acting as overarching leaders. The store seeks to achieve its set objectives by making incremental improvements in the services provided to customers, making new experiences even better than previous ones. One striking feature of the servant leadership style employed here is that it has the ability to influence organizational culture. Employees aspire to leave all clients satisfied with the services provided by striving to engage them in face to face interactions which are more personal. It often begins with the speed and time taken to serve clients. By working swiftly, clients get a feel of urgency and the particular spot they occupy in the store’s activities. Their services are also all-inclusive, dealing with issues of convenience and how innovation can be harnessed in a better way that would inspire loyalty, but most importantly, satisfied clients (“Demystifying Servant Leadership,” 2010). On the other hand, Starbucks’ affirmative mission statement is an indicator of the achievements it seeks to bag in the near future.  Employee activities are guided by this mission while also serving it to display the benefits that would accrue for anyone who would choose to use their services. The organizational culture that this mission statement creates is that of motivated employees who seek to become leaders in purveying coffee while still serving their clients.

Nordstrom’s commitment to proving exceptional customer service, as stated in their mission statement, is an indication of dedication to servant leadership. The store explicitly applies the inverted pyramid approach when dealing with its employees and in managing its internal affairs. The store functions primarily by combining customer service with its unique version of servant leadership meant to benefit all those who would take the time to seek their services. By so doing the enterprise inadvertently creates an environment that is favorable for employees to carry out their mandate. Starbucks also adheres to its mission statement by underscoring the importance of their clients and offering an environment that lays emphasis on employee openness (“Servant Leadership As A Teachable Ethical Concept,” 2012). The company’s leadership begins by treating the employees well. It is a widely known fact that customers gauge how well they will be handled by observing the manner in which employees are treated. These values result in relationship-derive approaches, inclusion, communication and openness, all which are central principles of servant leadership.

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In conclusion, it is safe to say that both companies are living out the principles expressed explicitly in their mission statements by espousing all tenets of servant leadership. These organizations focus on nurturing their employees while improving their collective performance for the benefit of society, efforts aimed at posterity.

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