Joseph Michelli’s Leading the Starbucks Way

Joseph Michelli‘s (@josephmichelliLeading the Starbucks Way is a must read for anyone interested in better understanding the wisdom that fuels Starbucks’ success.

Leading the Starbucks Way “outlines the foundational principles that have guided Starbucks leaders during sustained periods of meteoric growth, economic downturn, recovery, and transformation” where “the foundation for Starbucks leadership is reflected in terms like connection, humanity, humility, passion, and yes, even love.”

Starbucks’ Mission, Transformation Agenda, and Seven Bold Moves provides more background!

Unbeatable Success

When you’re sitting across from Howard Schultz, it doesn’t take long for him to get to the heart of leadership excellence. From Howard’s perspective, much of leadership comes down to three traits: “Take love, humanity and humility and then place it against a performance-driven organization; these are in conflict to the naked eye. But I believe that performance is significantly enhanced by this kind of leadership. I am so convinced of it because we have become more performance driven than at any other time in our history and the values of the company are at a high level. If we can infuse love, humanity, and humility on a global basis and build it into a performance-driven organization, we are unbeatable.”

At Starbucks, leadership champions the human connection in all aspects of business. Additionally, leaders build their business strategies based on opportunities that emerge from connections with partners, customers, communities, and shareholders. Ultimately, they manage through a lens of humanity and high performance expectations.

This book shares essential principles used by Starbucks leaders as they forge emotional connections that drive innovation, grow new business product lies, and foster employee and customer loyalty.

Call it what you want — kindness, compassion, or love. I call it the Starbucks connection and leading the Starbucks way.

Starbucks’ unbeatable success can perhaps be distilled:

  • How does Love, Humanity, and Humility relate to a performance-driven organization?
  • Performance is enhanced by this kind of leadership!
  • Manage through a lens of humanity [human connection and emotional connection] and high performance expectations.

Principle 1: Savor and Elevate

“Savor and Elevate” is a business principle that emphasizes the importance of maximizing enthusiasm for the products, services, and experiences your company provides.

Chapter 2, “If You Don’t Have Passion for Your Product, Why Should Your Customers?,” focuses on how Starbucks leaders communicate and demonstrate their personal passion for their product.

Only passions, great passions, can elevate the soul to great things. — Denis Diderot, French philosopher

Chapter 3, “From Replicable and Consistent to Magical and Unique,” sets product passion and consistent service execution as the foundation for fostering craveable customer experiences.

Men are rich only as they give. He who gives great service gets great rewards. — Elbert Hubbard

When good is not good enough, it’s time to lead your people to “Savor and Elevate.”

The principle of “Savor and Elevate” emphasizes maximizing enthusiasm — while we can communicate and demonstrate personal passion, execution is the foundation!

Far too many enterprises have enthusiasm and are able to express it, but don’t maximize it, that is, they ultimately lack execution.

Principle 2: Love to be Loved

At the center of these sustained emotional bonds is a leadership principle that I refer to as “Love to Be Loved.”

Chapter 4, “It’s a Matter of Trust and Love,” explores the hierarchical nature of customer engagement and how Starbucks leaders model integrity to secure stakeholders’ trust. In addition, the chapter explores the role that leaders play in charting a course toward brand passion.

Trust is . . . the beginning place, the foundation upon which more can be built. Where trust is, love can flourish. — Barbara Smith

Chapter 5, “It Must Thrive Inside to Be Experienced Outside,” takes a broad look at the many and varied efforts that Starbucks leaders deploy to maximize the company’s connection with partners.

Treat employees like partners, and they act like partners. — Fred Allen, American radio personality

You will come to appreciate that in order to be a viable force well into the future, you will most likely need to “love to be loved.”

This principle of “Love to Be Loved” emphasizes sustained emotional bonds — the nature of customer engagement and connections with partners are essential to being a viable force!

Far too many enterprises use relationships and bonds to advance themselves, but the bonds aren’t emotional or sustained, that is, they can’t ultimately become a viable force!

Principle 3: Reach for Common Ground

Chapter 6, “Assume the Universal: Serve the Unifying Truths of Humans, “examines how Starbucks leaders create connection with maximum global appeal.

All things are the same except for the difference, and different except for the similarities. — Thomas Sowell

Chapter 7, “Respect, Celebrate, and Customize: Listening and Innovating to Meet Local, Regional, and Global Needs,” looks at how leaders localize certain aspects of their products, environments, and service delivery to forge relationships that are relevant to local customers throughout the world.

Our Similarities bring us to a common ground; Our Differences allow us to be fascinated by each other. — Tom Robbins

Whether you are considering customers in the next town, in an adjacent state, or through online delivery in this global economy or even if you are opening a location in a country that is half a world away, this is your opportunity to “reach for common ground.”

This principle of “Reach for Common Ground” emphasizes reach — global appeal with localized aspects are essential in this global economy!

Far too many enterprises behave as global or as local, but don’t integrate these aspects, that is, they only limit their reach!

Principle 4: Mobilize the Connection

“Mobilize the Connection, ” looks at how Starbucks strengthens the relationships formed in Starbucks stores and extends them into the home, office, and supermarket experiences of customers.

Chapter 8, “Growing the Connection Through Technology,” explores how the leadership has improved the in-store experience through the use of technologies such as the Starbucks Digital Network. It also examines the comprehensive digital strategy that Starbucks deploys, including internal assets like mobile apps and external resources like social media.

Information technology and business are becoming inextricably interwoven. I don’t think anybody can talk meaningfully about one without talking about the other. — Bill Gates

Chapter 9, “Personal Relationships Translate: Sharing the Love from People to Products,” explores the multichannel strategy adopted by Starbucks leaders that has results in Starbucks products being available for customers not only in Starbucks stores but also in their homes, their offices, other businesses, and virtually anywhere they go.

Advertising moves people toward goods; merchandising moves goods toward people. — Morris Hite

This principle of “Mobilize the Connection” emphasizes extending — with technology, we can be virtually anywhere!

Yet, far too many enterprises simply don’t extend!

Principle 5: Cherish and Challenge Your Legacy

This principle, “Cherish and Challenge Your Legacy,” addresses both the success and the significant ambitions of leaders, while also examining how the leadership at Starbucks approaches these goals.

Chapter 10, “Honor the Past, but Don’t Be Trapped in It,” demonstrates how Starbucks leaders have renewed the entrepreneurial spirit that led to the company’s success as a start-up.

The day before something is a breakthrough, it’s a crazy idea — Peter Diamandis

Chapter 11, “Taking the Long View: Building Success That Lasts,” explores how Starbucks leaders make choices to achieve a lasting positive impact on partners, customers, and communities.

Your are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. — Woodrow Wilson

Ultimately, “Cherish and Challenge Your Legacy” should encourage you to define the legacy you wish to leave and evaluate your leadership performance, in part, based on your progress toward that legacy.

Chapter 12, “Forging a Real Lifestyle Connection”

It is important to remember that Starbucks started out as a single store and that anything is possible if we take the lessons learned from Starbucks as a nudge to think about how we can innovate and expand our products, services, social media tools, technologies, and channels. The leaders at Starbucks also demonstrate what is possible when you foster product passion, teach your people the importance of human connections, seek operational excellence and efficiency, and engage in a never ending pursuit of relevance.

Howard Shultz puts it this way: “Any consumer brand today — whether Starbucks or a product like Tide — . . . [must] create relevancy in all aspects of your customers’ lives. . . . The price of admission is not good enough if your relevancy and market position is only where the product is sold. We said to ourselves that we have to be as relevant socially and digitally as we are when the customer is inside our four walls . . . companies that don’t understand [that] are going to [be] left behind.”

This principle of “Cherish and Challenge Your Legacy” emphasizes legacy — as Steve Jobs is often quoted “We’re here to put a dent in the universe; otherwise why else even be here?” — an entrepreneurial spirit and a lasting positive impact will define your legacy!

Far too many enterprises focus so too much on the short-term or too much on the long-term, but don’t integrate these aspects in how they define a legacy!

Starbucks Connection and Leading the Starbucks Way

Connection and leading can perhaps be distilled into — Maximize Enthusiasm, Sustain Emotional Bonds, Reach, and Extend to create a Legacy!

Joseph Michelli‘s Leading the Starbucks Way is a must read!


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