Howard Schultz’s Leadership Mantras

Looking for examples of executives who are weathering a variety of business situations? There are many case studies of leadership success, but here, Counselor identifies three dynamic leaders who have been able to adapt to various business circumstances and shares quotes from each one about their leadership style and approach.

Howard Schultz, Chairman and CEO, Starbucks

How To Adapt Your Leadership Style

Having begun his career as a salesperson for Xerox and then moving to Starbucks as director of marketing in 1982, Schultz has seen the business world from many angles. He’s experienced both ups and downs, as well as big success and major controversy. Through it all, he’s managed to lead Starbucks – which he became CEO of in 1988 and took public in 1992 – to massive growth.

Having been credited with helping to expand the coffee movement in the United States, Schultz has espoused a very clear leadership strategy which has served him well: Be as transparent as possible and give people the leeway to make decisions on their own. For him, he has said that the approach has helped Starbucks to weather any challenges thrown its way, and has helped the organization to become one of the most recognized brands in the world.

Here are some of Shultz’s leadership mantras, in quotes:

  • “I think the currency of leadership is transparency. You’ve got to be truthful. I don’t think you should be vulnerable every day, but there are moments where you’ve got to share your soul and conscience with people and show them who you are, and not be afraid of it.”
  • “In life, you can blame a lot of people and you can wallow in self-pity, or you can pick yourself up and say, ‘Listen, I have to be responsible for myself.’”
  • “The hardest thing about being a leader is demonstrating or showing vulnerability... When the leader demonstrates vulnerability and sensibility and brings people together, the team wins.”
  • “Any business today that embraces the status quo as an operating principle is going to be on a death march.”
  • “I believe life is a series of near misses. A lot of what we ascribe to luck is not luck at all. It’s seizing the day and accepting responsibility for your future. It’s seeing what other people don’t see and pursuing that vision.”