A few weeks ago, I was on Barry Moltz' show on Blogtalk radio, talking about "Throw Out Fifty Things" and happened to stick around to hear Barry's interview with Howard Behar, former president of both Starbucks North American and International businesses - and author of "It's Not About the Coffee - Leadership Principles from a Life at Starbucks." I was knocked out by Howard's passion for motivating Starbucks employees to reach their highest personal potential - and his trust in their ability to do the right thing for their customers and their company. And not surprisingly, his leadership principles helped enable Starbucks to grow into a world-renowned brand. It turned out that Howard had tuned in early to hear my interview as well - and to make a long story short - we've become email friends.We connected by phone a few days ago and shared our thoughts about leading in tough times. Howard believes, as I do, that in the end it's the people of an organization - any organization - not the products or services, that will grow a company and lead it through even the most difficult crises. Oh, that doesn't mean the products and services aren't critical. It goes without saying that they've got to be as good as it gets - but in the end, it's the people who will do it for you. They're the ones, Howard says, who will come up with the unique approaches, ideas, products, processes - to move forward.
"You can't retreat to success," Howard says, "You can't retrench to success. You need to reach toward success which means the honoring of people who will take you there, treating them not as assets but as creative human beings." And I believe that's true whether you're talking about a coffee company, a media conglomerate or a baseball team - it's all about the people.
Howard Shultz, Starbucks' founder and chairman, wrote in the foreward to Howard Behar's book: "In terms of leadership, he's the real deal -- a natural leader with the skill set to be better than most number ones at many, many companies...From Howard Behar's first days at the company, he has always stood for and reminded us that 'we're in the people business serving coffee, not the coffee business, serving people'...There is no better teacher than Howard Behar."
Here are Howard Behar's 10 leadership principles:
1. Know Who You Are: Wear One Hat
2. Know Why You're Here: Do It Because It's Right, Not Because It's Right For Your Resume
3. Think Independently: The Person Who Sweeps the Floor Should Choose the Broom
4. Build Trust: Care, like You Really Mean It
5. Listen for the Truth: The Walls Talk
6. Be Accountable: Only the Truth Sounds like the Truth
7. Take Action: Think Like a Person of Action, and Act like a Person of Thought
8. Face Challenge: We Are Human Beings First
9. Practice Leadership: The Big Noise and the Still, Small Voice
10. Dare to Dream: Say "Yes," the Most Powerful Word in the World
And read Howard's book. There has never been a more critical time to get leadership right. I especially like: "The Person Who Sweeps the Floor Should Choose the Broom." Think about it.