Starbucks and Lessons on Leadership

Yesterday for 3 hours (5:30PM to 8:30PM), all 7,100 Starbucks stores in the United States closed for a barista re-education. This equals to about 135,000 baristas getting trained or shall we say re-trained.

In the last quarter, Starbucks have seen a drop in profits which has caused layoffs, the closing of stores and a slower growth on opening up new stores. One cause of the drop in profits is due to competition. Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonalds have stepped up on the coffee market, not only with competitive prices but better coffee.

Another cause is the deteriorating quality of drinks made by Starbucks baristas. Some have attributed it to the coffee arrogance by Starbucks and how the baristas have lost the enthusiasm and attention that needs to go in to make a good cup of joe.

Whatever the reason or the cause, there are some good leadership lessons involved here.

1) Good leadership will always set the bar. John Maxwell, the leadership guru said, “Everything rises and falls with leadership.” In the wake of weakening sales, the founder of Starbucks, Howard Schultz came back as the CEO to help run the corporation again. In all organizations when things are not going well, the first area you have to check up on is the leadership. It is easy to blame various people and factors, but ultimately everything goes back to the leader. This is the nature of the leadership – everyone can tell when there is poor leadership.

2) Good leadership will always go back to the basics of vision, mission and values. When Howard Schultz, now the CEO (2nd time around) was asked about the 3 hour closing, he said, “We believe that this is a bold demonstration of our commitment to our core and a reaffirmation of our coffee leadership.” In some sense, Starbucks is going back to the basics of what made them into a coffee powerhouse.

3) Good leadership will always strive for improvement and help people reach their full potential. When you are on top is it is easy to get complacent and gloat over your successes. Comfortability is one of the major causes for an organization to breakdown or fall into their demise. In order to stay on top, a company has to always be improving and reaching new levels. If not, then there is someone or another company that will be in the wings waiting to take the lead.

I am wondering how many churches are stagnant because leaders are too comfortable or just resting on their laurels. We have to learn to have short-term memory when it comes to success in the ministry. We can always be growing and learning new things. This is how we reach levels that we have never reached before.

Maybe the church needs to close shop for a little bit and take a day to just re-train the leaders. It will be great to regain our heart for the Gospel, transformation, missions and evangelism, love for people, sacrifice, and other basics in the Christian life.

Spiritual ENTREPRENEUR, Church EQUIPPER, Leadership EDUCATOR, Ideas EXPERIMENTER & Global EXPLORER who is trying to transform lives and transform the world.
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