Coffee is everywhere in Seattle, and as in most cities, Starbucks seems to dominate the market for caffeine-seekers. We had a great opportunity to hear from Howard Behar, the man who oversaw much of Starbuck’s stellar expansion, at yesterday’s opening general session.
Following his second retirement as Starbucks’ president in 2003, Behar put nearly 50 years of lessons on business leadership he’d learned into a book, It’s Not About the Coffee. He brought those insights into an industry-tailored message for NECA members.
Given the tough economy so many NECA members are currently working in, Behar’s message of putting people first was especially timely.
Behar pointed out that Starbucks made the commitment to its workforce early in the company’s history. “People are the glue that hold an organization together,” he said. “You have to care about every person in your organization, and every person you serve.”
He encouraged NECA members to define their values – the ideals that define their businesses – and then be prepared to pay the prices to remain true to those values.
One of Behar’s key points was “the person who sweeps the floor should pick the broom.” He echoed the same commitments NECA members make to workforce training and learning from other companies’ best practices, but encouraged the audience to not walk away from new ideas, especially new ideas that come from the field.
What do you think about Behar’s message that real business leaders care about people? How do you show this in your own company?
Edited to Add: Check out PaulsonElectric’s tweet about the session!