In the excellent business book, Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life Without Losing Its Soul we get the story of how Howard Schultz, the founder of Starbucks, returned to the everyday CEO duties in 2008 and lead the turnaround of the company.
I, for one, never followed the business side of Starbucks to realize they were in deep trouble leading into the economic crisis in 2008. They were growing for the sake of growing; new stores were more important than established stores. The soul of Starbucks was fading.
Howard Schultz co-authored the book with Joanne Gordon and his personal story and full commitment to Starbucks shines throughout the book. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and the lessons within. I nearly drooled onto the pages as I read the story of how SYPartners lead a wonderfully different consulting engagement with Howard and his senior leadership team. My continued evolution will take me next to a place like SYPartners … more on this down the road.
Near the end of the book, Howard Schultz expands on what leadership means to him. A perfect choice to wait until the end of the story. The words have meaning once you read of the challenges, difficulties, improvements, and hard-fought successes presented throughout the book.
Grow with discipline. Balance intuition with rigor. Innovate around the core. Don’t embrace the status quo. Find new ways to see. Never expect a silver bullet. Get your hands dirty. Listen with empathy and over-communicate with transparency. Tell your story, refusing to let others define you. Use authentic experiences to inspire. Stick to your values, they are your foundation. Hold people accountable but give them the tools to succeed. Make the tough choices; it’s how you execute that counts. Be decisive in times of crisis. Be nimble. Find truth in trials and lessons in mistakes. Be responsible for what you see, hear, and do. Believe.
I love the continuous prose. I used this technique myself in my last post. Forget a list with neat bullets. Instead, bring it together and write connecting sentences. Together a coherent whole. Read it again and again. Change the words and make it your own. Return and read again often. The words grow in meaning.
My sense is these days we read fewer books detailing highly successful business leaders writing of doing highly successful things. With Onward though, we have a story worth reading. Success is hard-fought and indeed there is truth in trials.