[February 18, 2014] Leadership is about maintaining the human touch with people. People are the strength of their organization and leaders that do not understand this principle will always struggle to succeed. Effective leadership means treating people right and respecting them.
As the saying goes, “Take care of your people and they will take care of you.” But it’s more to it than that.
In his well received book, It’s Not About the Coffee, Howard Behar (former president of Starbucks International) says that “… at Starbucks, I’ve always said we’re not in the coffee business serving people, we’re in the people business servicing coffee.”1
Until leaders understand that they must treat people well and take the time to interact with them, to help them when needed, to guide and to educate, then leaders will struggle. This means establishing a positive culture and good communication within the organization.
Behar’s leadership philosophy is very simple; treat people well and you will succeed (in his case both the employee and the customer). What this means also is that you must know and understand your business. In Behar’s case he had a fundamental understanding that the business was “not about the coffee” but about the people.
 It’s Not About the Coffee: Lessons on Putting People First from a Life at Starbucks, Howard Behar, The Penguin Group, New York, NY. 2007.