Decoding Howard Schultz’s Personality Traits And Qualities

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

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

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

Starbucks is one of the names on that list when it comes to the coffee business. 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 at Starbucks 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 truck 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 Starbucks; the traits include:


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

Schultz empires the development of producing projects. He also creates and discusses R&D to boost innovation, resulting in the Frappuccino, considered the best result.

In 2008 after becoming the Starbucks CEO again, he realized that the spirit needed 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, with 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 Starbucks 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 improve, 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 Starbucks would spend in the fiscal year to buy raw coffee.

The customers value that the company is honest, and they come to purchase the coffee even at higher prices.

Traits That Made Howard Schultz Successful


 Being flexible and adaptable 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 in passing his confidence and passion to them.

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

Howard released that Starbucks count on winning customers and flourishing without having a passionate devotion towards their employees.

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


 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 would be in place to check the coffee in general and Starbucks. Also, it will train the flight attendants.

United Airlines agreed on the decisions and got 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 29, and the fortune noted the offering of medical insurance to employees, supporting inventions, and social projects. It was sure that Howard was not just selling products but was 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 Starbucks a brand name that ranked as top best and a place that coffee-addicted people call heaven.

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

This includes :

Putting the Right People For the Right Job

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

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

Thinking The Employee Welfare

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

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

Each worker who works for Starbucks, even from higher to lower hierarchy, admitted that Howard takes care of them.

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

Apart from this, he made sure that the employees had health insurance and that options have shown in 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, leaders should be honest and dedicate their work unless their 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 to do an impressive analysis and long-term vision.

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

He closed the outlets, so the employees could 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. Starbucks was going through some issues, and Howard made it clear to everyone in public that he accepted 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 believed that they were part of the team, which helped 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 his scheduling enough time for the customer and employees.

Apart from this, he also makes sure that everyone in this organization has a clear message if there are 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 do the 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 then. Still, with his imagination, he made everything possible.

Howard Schultz’s 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 no-fat milk to the menu due to get more numbers of health-conscious people, 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 is determined to bring the best out of every situation.

Howard Schulz Leadership Style & Commandments

At the time, 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 offices 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 Howard’s belief in his idea, with determination and hard work, which made him successful.

Here are leadership principles that Howard follows 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 passion and trust and believes everything they do is the reason for the trust they all have. 

He says to lead with heart and use emotion. 

Along with his passions, he frequently references romance and passionate love in his writing, emails, and speeches.

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 your heart is involved, it will create 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.

Starbucks 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 faith that there was more than Starbucks can offer than coffee.

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

Starbucks 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 to 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 Starbucks, 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 the one who turned Starbucks, he turned 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 closed doors 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 this: The company is going through a 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 make the business unique. And it’s hard to maintain the core and innovate the organization, which loses its core values.

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

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

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

Instead Of Pioneer, Disrupt

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

For example, customers 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 of hard work to bring what can change the world

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

Key takeaways

  • Schultz is known for his strong work ethic and perseverance. He grew up in a poor family and worked hard to achieve success.
  • Schultz is a visionary leader who is passionate about his business. He believes in creating a culture of excellence and putting the customer first.
  • Schultz is also known for his strong interpersonal skills. He values relationships and believes in treating people with respect.
  • Schultz is a transformational leader who is willing to take risks and make bold decisions. He is not afraid to challenge the status quo and is always looking for ways to improve his business.
  • Schultz’s leadership style is focused on empowering his employees and giving them the tools they need to succeed. He believes that happy employees lead to happy customers.


What are some of Howard Schultz’s personality traits?

Howard Schultz is known for his strong work ethic, perseverance, visionary thinking, passion for his business, and strong interpersonal skills.

What is Schultz’s leadership style?

Schultz’s leadership style is focused on empowering his employees and putting the customer first.

He is a transformational leader who is willing to take risks and challenge the status quo.

How has Schultz’s personality contributed to his success?

Schultz’s strong work ethic, perseverance, visionary thinking, passion for his business, and strong interpersonal skills have helped him create a successful company and lead it to great heights.

What can we learn from Schultz’s leadership style?

We can learn the importance of empowering employees and putting the customer first, being willing to take risks and challenge the status quo, and fostering a culture of excellence in the workplace.

How has Schultz’s leadership style impacted Starbucks as a company?

Schultz’s leadership style has helped Starbucks become one of the world’s most successful and well-respected companies, focusing on quality products, customer service, and employee satisfaction.

More To Explore:

Was this article helpful?