Love to be Loved | How to Deliver World-Class Customer Experiences – Leading the Starbucks Way

This is the second in a 5-post series, “How to Deliver World-Class Customer Experiences – Leading the Starbucks Way.” In this installment, we continue to explore business concepts in my book Leading the Starbucks Way: 5 Principles to Connect with Your Customers, Your Products, and Your People.

When sitting across from Howard Schultz (the former CEO of Starbucks) it doesn’t take him long to get to the heart of leadership excellence which explains why I titled a Starbucks business principle “Love to be Loved.”

From Howard’s perspective, much of leadership comes down to three traits: “Take love, humanity, and humility and then place them in a performance-driven organization. Those humanistic elements in performance may seem in conflict to the naked eye. But I believe performance is significantly enhanced by human-centric leadership. I am 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.”

While Howard’s views about positive emotional connections and high-performance standards were somewhat unusual among CEOs at large corporations, his perspective was consistent with a groundswell of opinions and findings from leadership experts and researchers. Leadership author James Autry, for example, noted, “Good management is largely a matter of ‘love’ or if you’re uncomfortable with the word, call it ‘caring’ because proper management involves caring for people, not manipulating them.”

Professor Leonard Berry of Texas A&M summarized decades of consumer research by noting, “Great brands always make an emotional connection with the intended audience. They reach beyond the purely rational and purely economic level to spark feelings of closeness, affection, and trust. Consumers live in an emotional world; their emotions influence their decisions. Great brands transcend specific product features and benefits and penetrate people’s emotions.”

Ultimately, at Starbucks, the goal was to lead through a lens of humanity with high-performance expectations.

Based on the perspectives of Howard Schultz, James Autry, and Leonard Berry, here are a few challenge questions for you to consider:

  • Do you accept James Autry’s premise, that “good management is largely a matter of love?” If so, in what ways do you demonstrate that love? If not, why not?
  • How are you making emotional connections with your intended audiences?
  • In what ways are you managing through the lens of humanity while still maintaining high-performance expectations?

I hope you’ll consider purchasing a copy of Leading the Starbucks Way or if you already own the book, I would appreciate you taking the time to write a review on Amazon. You can also schedule a time to talk about loving your people and your customers. Here’s to your journey toward world-class customer experience – inspired in part by Leading the Starbucks Way.

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Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies.

Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

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