What leadership has to do with love

Last time, I wrote about hearing Howard Schultz speak during his book tour for launching Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul. It was an eye-opening interview. He spoke about the word “love” and what it means for someone to love what they do, to love the company they work for and to love a brand and what it stands for.When it comes to brand management, love is in the details. You just can’t miss those kinds of details.

If you need just one more nudge to pick up the book, think about the dire brand position Starbucks faced just three years ago. Stock had fallen by 40%, customers were saying the quality of the coffee and the service was below expectation, the media had tagged Starbucks as the poster child for luxuries not needed during a recession and McDonalds was running campaigns telling people to say “no to $4 coffee.”

Schultz shared small snippets of the turnaround in the forum. For example, most Starbucks addicts remember when they closed every store in the network for three hours of retraining to bring back the quality of the coffee and the experience. Something no one around me remembered was when Shultz convinced the board to spend $90M to bring all U.S. managers together for a meeting to reset the vision of the company and help everyone understand the how they were going to fix the company. Now the stock is again a darling of Wall Street and the book explains all the events that made it happen.

Shultz’s love for Starbucks and its team members shows in that the first intended audience for this book was his worldwide staff. He knew they would right the ship and come out stronger for doing it and he wanted it to be documented, we now get the story also, but I am sure this is a book all 140,00 employees are proud to sell in every coffee shop.

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photo used by permission from Katrina Snaps

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