As we formally honor our country’s military veterans this week, Starbucks is set to hire 10,000 veterans and active duty spouses over the next five years. A classic win-win, this strategy enables Starbucks to capitalize on the unique skills sets of these highly trained individuals while helping to reduce the high rate of unemployment often found in the sector. This decision in support of veterans is in keeping with Starbucks leaderships long history of values-based social responsibility which includes being among the first to offer benefits to part-time employees and leaderships efforts to continuously improve their ethical sourcing practices.
Beyond good PR and possible warm fuzzies, Starbucks understands that having a heart for veterans and all people for that matter is actually good for business. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz says “Since Starbucks’ earliest days, I have believed in a strong link between our company’s performance, our values, and the impact we have on the communities where we do business. This interdependence is at the heart of our mission. Such interdependence is also right for our business, especially in the times we now live. Consumers have long rewarded brands with their loyalty when they feel a company’s mission and aspirations align with their own.”
In my new book, Leading the Starbucks Way, I delve into the five leadership principles that connect your customers, your products and your people. Principle 2, Love and be Loved, offers the following litmus test for business leaders: Are most of your business decisions made solely for profit, or do those decisions also reflect ‘morality of action’ and a desire to make ‘deposits in the reservoir of trust’ for your stakeholders?
Here’s another gut-check: Give yourself a letter grade as a leader in each of the following areas. What is the rationale for each grade?
* Empathetically looking at business decisions through the lens of humanity.
* Communicating straightforward intent, acknowledging shortcomings, and keeping promises.
* Balancing the competing interest of stakeholders.
Are you content with your grades? What actions will you and your business put in place to improve them?
It is easy to be overwhelmed by such loftiness, right? The headlines and problems-of-the-day can sometimes be too much to understand, much less problem-solve into the way you lead your business. But when an opportunity to serve the greater good aligns with who your business is, what you do, and where you’re headed – have a heart! Be authentic and communicate to your customers how you’re working to make the community the two of you share better. Your efforts may not make the front page but they will matter to your customers. After all, they are the ones who really write your report card.