Decoding Howard Schultz: Personality Style, Traits, Qualities And More

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz’s Leadership Style

Howard D. Schultz was born on July 19 in, 1953. He is an American businessman as well as an author.

He served as chairman and CEO of Starbuck Coffee Company as he started from 1986 to 2000. 

How he was re-elected for the position again from 2008 to 2017.

Well, when it is to the coffee business, Starbuck is one of the names on that list. Not just that, Howard is also known for their leadership style that made the impossible possible.

Personality Traits And Qualification Of Howard Schultz

Howard Schultz is one of the leaders who inspired others, and under his leadership, Starbucks bloomed over the years

To know more about him, here are some of the points.

  • Howard Schultz started working in Starbuck coffeehouse in 1982.
  • Later, he left the company and started his II Giornale, which was a specialty coffee shop. However, in late 1980, it was merged with Starbucks.
  • Under his leadership, the company established itself as a large networking store which affected Seattle’s coffee culture.
  • In 1992, Schultz took the company public and invested a $271 million valuation for doubling the count of stores in order to publicize the coffee areas.
  • However, in 2000, Orin Smith took the role of CEO, and Howard had to step down.
  • But in the 2008 financial crisis, he again became the chief executive and led a mass firing of employees and exclusives and shuttered stores.
  • He is also an author and has written four books on business. Apart from this, he is also a political spokesperson.
  • In October 2020, His name was named the 209th Richest person in the US, according to Forbes. His net worth is $4.3 billion
  • He also started the Schultz Family Foundation to help military veterans and fight against youth unemployment. 
  • From 2001 to 2006, Schultz owned the Seattle Supersonic basket, team
  • He belongs to a poor family, where his father was a trucker driver, and Howard had two siblings.
  • He graduated in 1971 from Canarsie High School. Completed his B.An in communication from Northern Michigan University from 1971 to 1975.

Howard has the personality traits that helped in becoming successful as well as lead Starbuck; the traits include:


Howard believes in innovation as that’s what is set in his DNA to always create something new.

Schultz empires the development of producing projects. He also creates and discusses R&D for boosting innovation, and it results in the Frappuccino, which is considered the best result.

In 2008 after becoming the Starbucks CEO again, he realized that the spirit needs to get more reinvigorated.

He came up with instant coffee, also known as VIA, which tastes as good as traditionally brewed coffee, which is the next revolution in the instant coffee market.

In the US, the consumers were skeptical, considering it wud be lower quality. But VIA ranked fifth best-selling coffee in the market, which had a 10.4% market share.

Also, they gain this within one and a half years after the launch.


 Howard knows authenticity is what makes people different, and he stands firm on that.

Another principle that Schultz follows is his integrity. When the crisis happened in Brazil in 1994, where the competitors increased their prices, but Starbuck didn’t do it for a few months. They decided to give it time so it won’t be unfair to customers.

But when the brazil situation didn’t get better, Starubcj had to increase the price, but they adopted a different strategy instead of going with commodity business.

Instead of raising the cost,  Schultz decided to raise the process to compensate for the extra money that Starbuck would spend in the fiscal year in order to buy raw coffee.

The customers value that the company is being honest and they come to purchase the coffee even if it was higher prices.

Traits That Made Howard Schultz Successful


 Being flexible and adapted will help in learning and also it is important to adapt according to the situation.

In the early years, Straubkc used whole milk in their drinks but when Howard was dead against the idea.

He doesn’t want to use nonfat milk, as it won’t taste good.

But the customers wanted to have whole milk, and he came up with a choice for them.


 He is passionate about everything, also being a leader, passion helps in sharing the same energy with others.

Howard protected the philosophy throughout their career, it helped him to connect with others, including the employees.

With this, he was successful to pass his confidence and passion to them.

From day one, he encourages the employees to feel pride in what they are doing. He also provided generous benefits packages and stock options, which included help benefits for both part-time or full-time workers.

Howard released that Starbuck count win the customers and flourish and without having a passionate devotion towards their employees

This would come from loyalty, trust, and ownership. He said that Starbuck employees’ passion and devotion play a huge part in the competitive advantage of the company.


 He is bold with his decision; instead of playing it safe, Howards make the risky decisions.

Howard believes in breaking new ground, as in 1998,  Starbucks did an agreement with United Airlines to serve coffee on their flights.

The opportunity was to serve more than 20 million people every year.

However, the reputation of the Airlines was bad as they used to serve bad coffee, so investors and insiders considered the move.

Anyway, Howard signed the deal but ensured that the quality assurance program will be in place to check the coffee in general and Starbuck. Also, it will train the flight attendants.

United Airlines agreed on the decisions and get into the partnership, which trends out as the best strategic moves

Foolish Takeaway

Howard was named under the Fortune’s List of 50’s greatest leaders in the world.

He ranked in 29, and the fortune noted the offering of medical insurance to employees, supporting inventions, and social projects. It was sure that Howard is not just selling products but is creating the environment.

This is what makes him different and has the perfect balance between profitability, people, and product.

Qualities That Make Howard Schultz A Great Leader

Leadership Qualities Of Howard Schultz

Well apart from making Starbuck a brand name that ranked as top best and a place where coffee addicted people call heaven.

There are lots of qualities that Howard poses which make him a great leader.

This includes :

Putting Right People For Right Job

Howard always focuses on hiring the right people. He believes that choosing the people who are right for the job will adopt the company’s cure and do the specific job will lead the company to success.

He made sure that the employees which are chosen are based on their skills and intuition of what the company actually needs.

Thinking The Employee Welfare

Howard Schutz was just not focused on hiring the employees who are right for the job and the company.

But he considered that he will keep the employee motivated and inspired.

Each of the workers who work for Starbucks, even from higher to lower hierarchy, admitted that Howard takes care of them.

Also, he made them have confidence and believed in themselves.

Apart from this, he made sure that the employees are having health insurance and options have shown stocks.

Not just the employees who are working full time but the advantages and benefits are for part-timers too

He believed in maintaining the work, it’s important to have strong welfare that creates a  good relationship with each worker.

Standing With By His Values

Howards is a man who has strong values and he always makes sure to maintain it 

He knew that people desire to be respected regardless of where they work. Also, the leaders should be honest and dedicate their work unless the fellow members won’t show the same interests as well.

Focusing On The Outcomes

Howard made his decision based on what might happen in the future.

He never put his bet on what the situation is in the present, he had the power of doing the impressive analysis and long-term vision.

Howard always keeps himself aware of what he is doing, even when Starbucks was not great for a certain duration.

He closed the outlets, so the employees can have the training and it can bring good results in the future.

He Admits His Mistakes And Learns

Great leaders are those who know if they made mistakes and never hesitate to admit them.

Howard is one of those who never feel ashamed to admit that he made mistakes and he does it publicly.

Also, he takes the responsibility to heal the damages.

Starbucks had to go through different problems and difficulties due to the wrong decisions.

However, always took responsibility for the actions that caused the problems.

In 2007. Starbuck was going through some issues, Howard makes it clear to everyone in public that he accepts the blame. Also, focus on changing the situation that they are in.

What Are The Skills That Make  Howard A Great Leader?

Howard has the skills that helped in changing the situation for Starbucks and turned the odds in their favor.

Well, it includes :

The Team Work

Howard has amazing skills that curve the tea work. He made sure that every member was included in decisions and strategy making.

He loved that people believe that they are part of the team, which helps in keeping the team united.

The belief is also helpful as Howard knows they are the reason behind why the company is so successful and together is what can turn the impossible into possible.

Good Communication

Howard has a good listener and he always manages the time for his scheduling enough time to the customer and employees.

Apart from this, he also makes sure that everyone in this organization has a clear message if there is any changes or new goals, direction

He does formal and casual meetings with his fellow workers.

Excellent Imagination Capability

Howard has the skills of intellectual stimulation, along with having an excellent imagination.

As a practice of transformational leadership style, he believed that he would need intellectual stimulation.

Apart from this, he never gets scared to go opposite, even if it means going against the flow.

When he offered the launch of the concept of third place positioning, there was not much hope, Mainly because the corporate culture was different at that time, but with his imagination, he made everything possible.

Howard Schultz Leadership Traits

Howard has the leadership skills that defend his actions and helped to turn the Seattle-based coffee house into the global best-ranked coffee brand.

Well, to understand how he did it, here are the leadership traits that Howard has:

He is Flexible

Howard believes that no matter what happens, the company or value the company has if you show flexibility will keep pace even with sincere changes.

He learned from the needs of customers that keep changing. He doesn’t want to lose any customers that are an outlet of Starbucks.

He added the no-fat milk to the menu due to get more numbers of people who are health-conscious, even though the company sells whole milk coffee.

He Has The Confidence

Howard has faith and confidence that his action will benefit the company. Also, he puts his confidence in his actions which helps others to do the same.

He Is Determined

Apart from having intelligence and brilliant skills, Howard has the determination that brings the best out of every situation.

Howard Schulz Leadership Style & Commandments

There was a time when most Americans had no idea about the difference between high-grade coffee beans and instant coffee.

Howard Schultz dreamed of starting a national chain or serving the best quality coffee to the world and offering a place where people can socialize apart from their office and house.

It was considered an outlandish idea. However, the company now has the best-listed coffees. And it’s synonymous with quality coffee.

Well, it was possible because of the belief that Howard had in his idea, with determination and hard work, which made him successful.

Well here are leadership principles that Howard follows and that made him what he is today.

Lessons That Howard Taught Leaders

Lead From Emotions And Heart

Howard put pressure on emotions a lot. He anchors the leadership to passions as well as trust and believes everything they did is in the reason of the trust all of them have. 

He says to lead with heart and use emotion. 

Along with his passions, he also makes references to romance, and passion love in his writing, emails, and speeches frequently.

He backed his team using displays of emotions, even though he is not afraid of showing his vulnerabilities and advocating authenticity, which is the essential element in his leadership.

Howard says that a person should do things that come from his heart. When you love what you serve, it will create elevated feelings that the customer can’t forget.

Also when it’s your heart that is involved, it will create the vibes that will take everything to another level.

Get Ready For The Bumpy Ride

There will be chances that the situation might not work that great. And it’s something that Howard says alright.

But it’s important to take risks, the world can’t be changed by not taking risks.

And as a leader, it’s important to take risks that can be bold and big.

The leader has to sacrifice, work harder and create something that can have a huge impact.

Despite the setbacks and hurdles, the leader should not lose sight of the big picture.

Leaders require to push themselves and keep believing in their goals.

The Starbuck products are across locations as well as countries, the consistency is the proof.

Set The Vision Straight And Focused

The success of Starbucks and Howard is the attribute of what his vision was.

He joined Starbucks, with the vision that nobody could have. He had the faith that there is more that Starbuck can offer than coffee.

They wanted to build something that can give a completely different experience, a place where people can spend their time and enjoy and then eventually end up creating heaven for coffee lovers.

Starbuck is always driven by its passion for coffee and its community.

When he was chosen a second time as Starbucks CEO in 2008 he was motivated by his design of religious operations. And he put his visions.

With that, he wanted to restore the integrant that Starbuck lost during the fast growth.

He focused on building a brand that treats people with dignity and respect and the same vision that Starbuck followed.

The Purpose Should Be Beyond Than Earning Money

Another principle that Howard follows is making sure that purpose is beyond earning proof.

In 1994 when the frost in Brazil started the coffee crisis, most of the competitors suddenly increased their coffee prices.

However, Starbucks locked their lower prices for a few months and then decided to raise it too soon as it would be unfair for the people.

Well, no doubt no business can survive long term without earning a profit, but the company requires to focus on not using the customer to get the profit only.

Starbucks operated the balance within social responsibility along with high profit and value.

By providing great benefits to the employees, including health care, they also make sure that everyone is balanced.

Howards also created the evangelical baristas team for Starbuck, which led to lower turnover and happier customers. It also improved the relationships, which boosted the profit of Starbucks.

Make The Opportunities On Your Own

Starbucks is hard to miss; it’s everywhere and on every corner.

Starbucks did this intentionally, though creating instead of depending on traffic patterns or competition in location,

Starbucks opened their store in entire areas

There was a chance to create self-cannibalization, but the unorthodox helped the company to dominate the market with the help of blocking the competitors out.

Howard believes in going against the old fashions and doing something that nobody else did.

It can be risky, but it might bring benefits to the company.

Even though Howard is not one who turned Starbucks but he did turn it from a small Seattle company into a global chain of coffee.

It took a year to convince the owners of Starbucks to hire him, and he kept doing it even though he got rejections many times.

He was unfazed by the doors which closed and tenacious enough to create opportunities for himself.

Stick To What You Believe And The Core Values

Howard rejoined Starbucks in 2008 as CEO and understood first this – The company is going through financial crisis and it’s not because of the economic recessions.

The company shifted from its core values which enhanced the customer experience.

Howard believes that the core values of the business are what makes the business unique. And it’s hard to maintain the core and innovate the organization which ends up losing its core values.

Not just he made the company go back to its core value but also made it more than just words.

He believes that the core value is something that should be taken seriously by everyone, as is the key to success.

It’s impossible to have the rule of everything; that’s why values are what put the compass and guides to make the right decisions.

Instead Of Pioneer, Disrupt

Straubckd makes sure that they remain true to their rights; however, the company also codes to be innovative.

For example, customer wanted to spend their time in Starbucks locations, so Starbucks started to offer Wifi for free in 2010.

Also, the company allows the customer to pay for the products using the iPhone app. And it was the first company that went mobile.

It encourages teamwork, also to identify problems, and embracing new thoughts and ideas. Also, the risk to hard work to bring what can change the world

However, Howard advises not to go into the pioneering business or change human behavior.

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