I arrived this morning at Canary Wharf, early, and I think about where I can sit and do some work. I find myself in the Starbucks under Canada Square, which I have been to quite a lot, and then I open up this article about Howard Schultz and what he is doing for his employees.
I have used a video of Schultz telling a great story about why all employees at Starbucks have health cover in the US. It is a great clip of someone who is genuinely engaged with his people and committed to them being a great place to work. Not only that but he conveys that message in a fantastic personal story which illustrates those values brilliantly.
With this news he is beginning to emerge as one of the great people leaders in big business. Of course he is the CEO and therefore the front man, but these ideas and the way he interviews make me believe in him and that he is willing to stand out as a leader for what he believes. Giving education and authentically showing that employee development is important to the good of the organisation as well as the bottom line, is a fundamental belief that I share, along with lots of people around me. I have seen individuals within organisations agree, but too often the people leading organisations, or certainly controlling budgets, have stifled these ideas. I am pleased to see that Schultz is willing to seriously invest, rather than just say he is, in his employees.
This Race Together story that has recently been in the press and has been a bit of a black-eye for Starbucks, demonstrates something else that I think is critical for leadership. Courage and courage of convictions. Fine, the Race Together initiative was not executed well and was embarrassing for company. However I feel that the sentiment was certainly in the right place. It seems that the bravery to get into the field and address these issues is a good thing in a leader. And being able to stand by it when it goes wrong and stand by the sentiment. I wish I saw more of this, because more of the time it will make a difference.
So having actively avoided Starbucks cafes previously, not least because I don’t enjoy coffee or the sugary snacks they serve, today I am happy to sit here with a peppermint tea and be part of a company that seems to be demonstrating good employee and social leadership and has a leader who is willing to be bold and stand for something.