What Do You Stand For as a Leader?
According to this article from HuffPo, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz “told off an investor who tried to argue that the company’s support for gay marriage is bad for business.”
So, why is this important to you, our GMP reader? Because this is a wonderful example of what leadership is. It’s not about playing the angles and being supersmart and trying to please everyone, it’s about leading with your heart (and parts farther south).
Regardless of your position regarding same-sex marriage (and, in the interests of full disclosure, I will note that I support it), it’s good to see a corporate leader standing up for the values that his firm espouses, instead of caving to someone who demands that they abandon or change their values or face a protest.
Now, he’s bargaining from a position of strength, Starbucks has been having a good year. Not to mention, the the density of Starbucks locations, and their ratio to Walmart Locations, is a pretty good proxy for how “Blue” a location is, politically (Hat tip to Nate Silver’s 538). Nonetheless, too many CEOs of public companies will back down in the face of this sort of threat, and Howard didn’t. His response?
“If you feel, respectfully, that you can get a higher return than the 38 percent you got last year, it’s a free country. You can sell your shares of Starbucks and buy shares in another company. Thank you very much.”
When money is all that matters to our corporate leaders, we all lose. Bravo, Howard.
Image courtesy of Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/waferboard/7417277874/sizes/z/in/photostream/