Welcome to our interview with Howard Behar. Howard is a well-known business leader, author, and speaker who has influenced the lives of many men and women. During his time as president of Starbucks International, the company grew from 28 to 15,000 locations. His latest book is The Magic Cup: A Business Parable About a Leader, a Team, and the Power of Putting People and Values First.
Welcome Howard, and thank you for contributing to the questions that are at the heart of Exploring Forward Thinking Workplaces 2.0.
How can we create workplaces where more voices matter, people thrive and find meaning, and change and innovation happen naturally?
Howard Behar: I have this little saying, “The person who sweeps the floor chooses the broom.” What I mean by that is the person who has a responsibility in certain areas is given the authority, responsibility, and accountability. That means you’ve got to give them room to make mistakes and to grow primarily as people first, and then as employees.
The key word here is trust. What makes a family healthy? What makes it so the kids can strike out on their own? What makes it so our partners can stretch out on their own? It’s the trust we build with each other—that’s what has to happen in organizations too. When you have trust, it’s amazing what can happen.When there’s trust it’s amazing how people can begin to use their own creativity because they lose that fear of being judged. They lose the fear of making mistakes.
They go out there and do things that serve each other and serve their customers. It’s not complicated. It’s half building trust and caring about each other while encouraging each other. As a leader, it’s giving them responsibility and accountability to let them “choose their broom.”
You know it’s not really employees and customers. That’s a word we all use to describe with who we work and do business. It’s one human being serving another human being. That’s what it is. At the end of the day, that’s what we were put on the earth to do. It doesn’t make any difference what your job description is or what your title is; we’re all servers of human beings.