Business blog

Schultz on Leadership, Love and the Competitive Advantage of Culture

We know that the BUSS4 is a big fan of the Apple and Steve Jobs - and with good reason. As our BUSS4 Topic Tracker indicates, a previous essay question (Jan 2010) used the example of Steve Jobs to ask students to evaluate how easy it is for a Chief Executive to change a struggling business into a more successful one.

Steve Jobs shares much in common with another well-known entrepreneur and CEO - Howard Schultz (Starbucks). Both men founded, left and then returned to lead a turnaround of their respective businesses.  Both have taken on the challenge of taking a business idea through rapid growth and then also manage a global brand in a much more uncertain external environment.

Might Howard Schultz feature in a future AQA BUSS4 essay choice? Its certainly possible and this article from Ernst & Young ought to be essential reading for any A2 business student who wants to build their understanding of Schultz and his leadership style and business strategy for Starbucks.

That article is here:  EY-Starbucks.pdf

Lots of useful insights into the challenges faced by Schultz when he returned to Starbucks in 2008.  Some have been well covered already here on the Business Studies blog (see below for some other great links).

The article provides some new material though which an A* star essay could use.  Here are a few examples drawn from Schultz quotes in the article - I’m sure students will want to get their highlighters working on other snippets:

Schultz on what leaders need to provide to a complex business:

“I think it is incumbent upon leaders to understand that the responsibility and burden of proof is on themselves to create trust, sensibility, a sense of purpose and a shared commitment” [the link between effective leadership providing a sense of purpose / vision for the business]

Schultz on a key problem of rapid growth and success

“Growth and success have a tendency to cover up mistakes…you never go back and look at what you did wrong, because there’s so much opportunity and the wind is at your back. That’s a great time in a company, but it’s not sustainable.”

Schultz on the importance of rewarding employees well as part of a sustainable culture

“We would completely fracture every aspect of the culture we have [by reducing employee benefits], which is the only competitive edge we have.” [a great example of how a strong sense of corporate culture can be a sustainable competitive advantage]

Schultz on the three key drivers of change in a global business

According to Schultz, a seismic change is under way in the business world, brought about by three factors: the economic downturn, the development of social and visual media, and an increased consumer interest in business ethics.

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