Howard Schultz leadership lessons (Part I) 

Today's post is the first part of a two-part series dedicated to analyzing some leadership lessons that Howard Schultz leaves us after his experience as ideologue and CEO of Starbucks.
Lecciones de liderazgo de Howard Schultz (Parte I)

I have always admired Starbucks especially its founder and long-time CEO, Howard Schultz.

Recently I read his book (written in 2011), Onward – How Starbucks fought for its life without losing its soul. It’s an amazing book that Howard himself explains when, back in 2008 he had to come back as a CEO (then he was the president of the company after being CEO from 1986 to 2000), to help the company overcome the serious problems it was having, (including the economy crisis all over the world).

Onward is more than just a business book. It’s an inspiring story and a great example of how to lead and transform a company. A company Howard loves with passion. Because, as he usually says, “If you don’t love what you are doing with unbridled passion and enthusiasm, you are not going to succeed when you hit obstacles”.


  • GROW WITH DISCIPLINE: leadership is about growing yourself and helping others grow. For that to happen, discipline and good habits are needed.
  • BALANCE INTUITION WITH RIGOR: intuition is very important for leaders, but most of the time, Schultz thinks it is underrated. You need to follow your inner intuition and complement it with rigor and good analysis.
  • INNOVATE AROUND THE CORE: Schultz recommends always having your core business in mind and staying focused on it. But you always must innovate around it. And think again and again about how you can improve it.
  • DON’T EMBRACE THE STATUS QUO: good leaders dare to change the status quo. They understand their environment and can transform it. So, understand your situation and do your best to transform it positively.
  • FIND NEW WAYS TO SEE: to get better results and improve in any area, leaders need to be creative and always consider new points of view. So, ask other people, ask your partners, and be open to new ideas and new ways of seeing things.
  • NEVER EXPECT A SILVER BULLET: there is no simple magic formula in business (and in life). To succeed, there are no shortcuts. You need to work hard and not depend on a single aspect. To overcome difficult situations, you need several positive things, not just a silver bullet.
  • GET YOUR HANDS DIRTY: Schultz recommends that leaders get down to Earth and check their business from the daily operations. Be close to your employees and your customers. Only by “getting your hands dirty” can you fully understand your business and make better decisions.
  • LISTEN WITH EMPATHY AND OVERCOMMUNICATE WITH TRANSPARENCY: communication is a key element in developing great leadership. Communication is a bidirectional process which means leaders have to listen carefully and communicate a lot in a very open way.
  • TELL YOUR STORY, REFUSING TO LET OTHERS DEFINE YOU: leaders have to lead the way they communicate and express themselves. Creating your own story and having great communication skills are essential to developing great leadership.

In next week’s post, Howard Schultz leadership lessons (Part II)”, I will share with you more ideas about empowering your leadership according to Howard Schultz.

I finish this post with a quote of him that I love

“Success is not an entitlement. It must be earned, and it has to be earned every day”

Xavi Roca

I am Talentist, I help organizations, managers and professionals to achieve high performance through enhancing their leadership and personal brand. I am passionate about leadership, high performance team management and Personal Branding, and I have dedicated my professional career to helping companies and professionals develop and enhance their talents and strengths to achieve their maximum development and performance.

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