Leadership the Starbucks Way: The 5 Ways of Being

Leadership The Starbucks Way: The 5 Ways of Being

Starbucks 5 ways of being

Starbucks is one of the great American companies I really admire. Not only am I obsessed with their Carmel Apple Spice drink (give me a Venti please!), but I simply love the experience of walking into a Starbucks store! Most of my friends and family know of my obsession and give me Starbucks gift cards for my birthday, Christmas, etc. I love the experience so much that I usually stay for hours. You can call Starbucks one of my “satellite offices”. I love to blog, read, and people-watch in Starbucks.

                Everything about the Starbucks experience is intentionally crafted by Starbucks Leadership. The friendliness of the partners (Starbucks employees), detailed attention to your order, cleanliness of the store and cozy atmosphere don’t just happen by chance. Starbucks Leadership has created a structure called “The 5 Ways of Being” that provides a framework for the partners to express their own individuality while still upholding the core principles of the company. The 5 Ways of Being are as follows:

1.) Be Welcoming

               I don’t think I’ve ever gone into a Starbucks and not been greeted with a welcoming remark that can be as simple as “Good morning”, “Good afternoon”, How are you today?”, “How can I help you.”. People like to be recognized and feel welcomed when they come into a new space. If I’m not personally recognized and welcomed within a minute of walking into an establishment, ie. restaurant, store, etc, I usually don’s stick around too long. Starbucks partners do a great job of welcoming each and every customer who walks through their doors. If you are a regular, you will probably be greeted by name. In Dale Carnegie’s Book “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, he discusses how a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” acknowledging your colleagues and team members by name is important in establishing good report.

2.) Be genuine

               Starbucks identifies 3 key components to being genuine and calls partners to connect, discover and respond. Most of us can tell if someone is being genuine or not. When I walk into Starbucks I want to know that the employees are genuinely interested in providing great customer service. Genuine interest can come in the form of the Starbucks partner asking about how my day is going, asking about what I do for a living, talking about the weather, etc. Asking these questions forms connections, and initiates discovery of what’s important to the customer. Any Leader can show a genuine interest in their team by asking questions and initiating conversations that establish good working relationships.

3.) Be Considerate

                Being considerate should be a no-brainer. However, I’m sure I’m not the only person who has ever walked into a cafe, restaurant, store, etc and encountered an employee who was in their own world, talking on the phone, talking with other co-workers and ignoring customers. The customers who come to Starbucks for a great cup of coffee and a pleasant experience want to know that the employees are being considerate to them. Starbucks deals with “being considerate” on a corporate level as well. The Leadership wants the directors, managers, and partners to know that they are concerned about their well-being as part of the Starbucks team. Speaking and interacting with people in a professional manner is important in Leadership. Learning how to handle difficult team member situations and Crucial Conversations by praising in public and reprimanding in private is a good example of being considerate as a Leader.

4.) Be Knowledgeable

                  Knowledge is Power and the more you know about your company, industry and what your customers want and expect, the better. It’s difficult to have confidence in a leader who doesn’t know the ends and outs of not only WHAT they do, but WHY they do it. Equipped with that knowledge, a great Leader can know how to best serve their team(s) and add value to their customers. Starbucks invests heavily in training their partners. A great example of ongoing learning is that Starbucks gives its partners a free pound of coffee every week so they are continually becoming more knowledgeable about the company and the taste of its products.

5.) Be Involved

                At Starbucks, being involved means active participation “in the store, in the company, and in the community.” Partners are encouraged to be active in the store, addressing the needs of the customers on a daily basis and making the experience special for each person. Leadership at Starbucks makes it a point to actively respond to concerns, ideas and suggestions from partners. Leaders at any level should be accessible to their team members to foster communication and execution of vision and goals. Consistent involvement from all levels of Leadership is important to making the partners and customers feel valued. Community involvement is a way in which Starbucks provides opportunity for their partners to give to others and make a difference in individual communities. No matter what industry or business you are in, corporate structure or entrepreneur, being involved in what matters to the community is a perfect way to stay connected to it.

How can you use Starbucks’ 5 Ways of Being to better organize your Leadership strategy?

– Dr. April

Dr. Carmen April's Speaker Series

Dr. Carmen April’s Speaker Series

            This post is part of a series on Leadership presented by Dr. Carmen April. She is a young entrepreneur and community leader recognized as a 2013 Nashville Business Journal Top 40 Under Forty Award Recipient and is currently a 2014 New Leaders Council Fellow – Nashville Chapter.  Dr. April is available for speaking engagements on Entrepreneurship for college students and young professionals.


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