Howard Schlutz as a Leader

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December 2012

Assignment 3

Subject: Choose one leader and by using the concepts and theories from the book, explain the reasons why you think he or she is a good leader ? Leadership is one of the most hotly debated topics in management studies, social psychology and organizational psychology (Pfeffer 1993). Despite the depth and breadth of debate concerning leadership effectiveness, it remains an elusive construct. As a result, researchers and practitioners have not reached a consensus on a true and concise definition that represents an accurate depiction of effective leadership in all situations and possibilities. Bennis and Nanus (1985, p. 259) maintain that “neither in common parlance nor in the literature on the subject, is there consensus about the essence of leadership, or the means by which it can be identified, achieved or measured”. Although no one perspective is entirely accurate, nor entirely irrelevant, the answer to exceptional leadership remains relatively unclear. For example, does the early 21st century environment demand a different kind of leadership from earlier times? Certainly there has been a move away from ‘command and control’ models of leadership towards more flexible, collaborative and nurturing styles (Bennis 1999). The ability to cope with new and challenging imperatives such as increasing global competition demands the use of new leadership skills (Conger 1993). While the technical skills of leaders are not unimportant, there appears to be a case for emphasizing general management expertise, entrepreneurship an ability to look into the future and the acceptance of responsibility (Savery et al. 1996). And this is exactly why Howard Schultz (Starbucks CEO), appears as one of the greatest leader of our times. In this essay, I’ll try to develop the reasons why I think he is a good leader more deeply. For most leaders, the middle of the road is an alluringly comfortable place. It’s safe, welltrodden, and known. Unfortunately, what it isn’t is inspiring. Consider any inspirational leader and you’ll notice their proclivity towards the unconventional, the creative, and the tough choices. The great leaders eschew the middle of the road for the road less taken. And the best take the high road while they’re at it. In fact, any manager today should be engaging in their own Howard Schultz stalking (from a respectable distance, of course) to learn how to use their personal presence and platform to create a virtuous cycle. Yes, Schultz is insanely successful at what he does. And he’s done it by taking gutsy stances, many of which he does not because he has to, but because he feels they’re right. 1

Schultz also strikes the delicate balance of being decisive, assertive, approachable and real. And unlike iconic leaders in the vein of Steve Jobs or Jack Welch, he’s the kind of leader you’d like to have a coffee with.So how does he do it? I assembled five elements which could highlight the reasons of his success... Lesson #1: Schultz defaults to being open, and willingly shares his story. A focus on individual characteristics influenced early leadership research whereby leaders were initially considered successful due to their attractive appearance. When it became apparent that there was a lack of consistency in this approach, personality characteristics, known as traits, began to take over. As a result, particular traits and competencies associated with leadership have emerged. These include: integrity, confidence, extraversion, determination, resilience, the relentless pursuit of goals, the ability to take risks, inventiveness, conscientiousness, the readiness to face uncertainty, innovativeness, adaptability, knowledge of the market and the ability to learn from adversity (Busenitz 1999; Kecharananta & Baker 1999; Littunen 2000; McCarthy 2000; Osborne 1995; Stewart & Roth 2001; Thomas, Dickson & Bliese 2001; Wooten, Timmerman & Folge 1999). Many have heard Schultz tell his story. He grew up in the...
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