An Individual that Exemplifies Excellent Leadership – Howard Schultz

High performance organizations such as the Southwest Airlines, Starbucks and U.S Marine Corps have achieved great success owing to excellent leadership. One individual that has shown exemplary leadership is Howard Schultz, the Starbucks chief executive officer.

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 Leading is one of the four functions of management (Plunkett, Allen and Attner 440). According to the authors, early leadership theories assert that exemplary leaders possessed certain traits, personal characteristics and values that formed the basis of their leadership (441). The success of Howard Schultz owes much to his traits of sociability, intelligence, determination, self-confidence and integrity. Howard Schultz believes that the belief in what is right and in oneself propels one during difficult moments. He has often maintained integrity in his time as the CEO of Starbucks and showed it by being honest and open in his communications with employees and the company shareholders. For example, during his return as the CEO when the company faced the economic downturn, he did not blame others for the slump but took responsibility even when he was not the CEO before the slump.

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Howard Schultz helped cultivate the culture of trust among his employees through high levels of integrity that he displayed as the company CEO. Also, he possesses huge determination with focus on employees first. He also has strong commitment to built relationships and an understanding of the needs and wants of his followers. Howard Schultz often felt that by motivating the employees to be proud of Starbucks, they would transfer the same pride among their co-workers and the company customers.

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In addition, Howard Schultz is visionary and believes that as an entrepreneur, one has to dream and then dream even bigger. For him, whenever he believes in something, he can be relentless in his enthusiasm, passion and drive to realize it. Besides, Howard Schultz possesses empathy and compassion, which has cultivated strong relationships between himself and his employees (whom the company calls partners). For example, during an incident when three Starbuck employees were shot and killed in the company Georgetown store in Washington, D.C., he did not call the police nor the company public relations or lawyers; he instead went straight to Washington to meet and grief with the families of the employees.

Examples of Howard Schultz’s Leadership in Action

One remarkable example of leadership under Howard Schultz is his care for the employees. Howard Schultz was brought up in poverty and his father had a job that offered fewer benefits than Starbucks does. In July 2016, as the company CEO, Howard Schultz announced that Starbucks would be offering new company benefits to its U.S employees, which included a 5% pay rise (Lebowitz). This was a strategy to make employee feel appreciated by the company for their contribution towards its success.

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The behavioral perspective of leadership styles points that two types of leadership styles are effective in organization management. In the example provided above, it is evident that Howard Schultz has a strong tendency to adopt and practice people-oriented leadership style. He shows himself as a leader who remarkably takes great and genuine care of the employee needs and benefits. He has shown his commitment to a company that provides stock options, pay rise and medical benefits to its employees. By taking care of the employee needs, he ensures that the company employees are taken care of. Howard Schultz beliefs that the best strategy of attaining great customer experience is through the delivery of excellent employee experience. Through his leadership, Starbucks has been consistently ranked as the best places to work.

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The other example of leadership actions of Howard Schultz is the introduction of melted-cheese breakfast sandwiches in 2008. The introduction of melted-cheese breakfast sandwiches led to masking of Starbucks’ coffee aroma and he order that the company stop making the sandwiches for its breakfast (Lebowitz). However, company key leaders pushed back for the sandwiches, which were later introduced. From contingency leadership perspective, Howard Schultz exhibits participative leadership. In realizing that his move to cancel the making of the sandwiches was not popular among his partners, he listened to their feedback and suggestions and once again Starbucks started making and selling melted-cheese breakfast sandwiches in a way that are less aromatic as the coffee.

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How Howard Schultz Motivates Employees to Achieve Goals

The leadership style adopted by Howard Schultz revolves around the development of trust, admiration and creation of motivation among the organization employees (Schultz and Villanueva Galobart). He understands the needs of the organization employees, which is in accordance with the needs theory.  Howard Schultz satisfies the 3rd, 4th and 5th components of the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. For example, he attains self-actualization among his employees through his effective communication skills. Howard Schultz studied communication in college and it is perhaps one of his strengths in achieving employee communication. He continuously sends outs personal calls for feedback and advice. Instead of imposing his ideas among his employees, he listens to them and adopts a consensus, which motivates employees to work harder to achieve company goals. According to (Plunkett, Allen and Attner), the encouragement of constructive dissent and healthy debate, team strength is reinforced since it demonstrates that tension of diverse opinions creates answers.

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The other strategy through which Howard Schultz motivates his followers is his leadership styles. He achieves intellectual stimulation among his employees through his transformational leadership, by challenging the status quo and stimulating creativity among employees. In addition, Howard Schultz has adopted individualized consideration through his presence, ability to offer support and encouragement among the employees, listening to the employee contribution and giving direct recognition to their contributions. Also, his clear vision as outlined earlier in the paper is a source of inspirational motivation which enables him to communicate to his employees the organization goals thus enabling them to meet the same goals.            

Howard Schultz leadership has introduced an array of benefits for its partners (employees) who work for 20 hours or more. These include bonuses, discounted stock options and retirement benefits. In addition, the company employees enjoy health coverage, tuition reimbursement, recognition programs, store discounts up to 30% and a free pound of coffee. These create a feeling of love among employees, thus motivating them to work hard to contribute towards the organization goals.

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