Sample Essay on Qualities of A Good Leader

Qualities of A Good Leader


Post (2017) defines leadership as an individual’s ability to establish a following among teams or other individuals. A great leader positively influences his or her subordinates and peers by what they do or say, and how they do it. Chris (2015) states that there are two types of leaders, namely: transformational leaders and transactional leaders. Transactional leaders focus more on the company’s success regardless of how it will be achieved; while transformational leaders work with their subordinates closely to implement company policies. Howard Schultz is well known for his use of transformational leadership which has been attributed to the success and growth of Starbucks to become the leading player in the beverage industry.

The Incident

            On July 7th 1997, three employees of a Starbucks store in Washington D.C were found brutally murdered at the store’s counter. Surprisingly, no money was stolen from the store (Vogel & Thompson, 1997). Howard Schultz, Starbuck’s CEO and Chairman was in the middle of a vacation in New York. On receiving the news, he broke off his vacation and immediately flew to Washington. He visited the families of the three employees, consoling them and offering them both financial and moral support. He took responsibility for their deaths and assured them that Starbucks would get them justice for their loved – ones. In addition, he spoke to the staff of the Georgetown store where he promised to intensify the security of their store to ensure their well – being (Vogel &Thompson, 1997).

Benefit to Internal Audience

Howard Schultz’s response to the Washington murders greatly influenced the employees at Starbucks (Stallard, 2011). One of the people who were positively influenced was Howard Behar, who served as Starbuck’s North America President at the time of the murders. On the night the murders took place, Behar called Schultz to inform him. He was surprised that Schultz immediately boarded a plane to Washington instead of asking the company’s lawyers to handle the case on his behalf. According to Stallard (2011), Behar stated that he would work for Starbucks for the rest of his career, because he would love to work for a leader who he would respect because of the empathy, compassion and courage the leader displays. Behar went ahead to become the first president of Starbucks International, where he led the company to spectacular growth, with the inspiration he got from Howard Schultz.

According to Chris (2015), the 1997 incident at Georgetown showed that Howard Schultz values his employees. As a result, the employees became more attached and loyal to the company. The staff at the Georgetown store were amazed that the CEO and Chairman would forfeit a vacation to console with the families of their slain colleagues. In addition, he was concerned about the future safety of the employees, which made him deploy more security guards to the store, and all the other 62 stores in Washington D.C. Chris (2015) states that Starbucks offers all their employees comprehensive health care insurance as well as stock ownership of the company. In addition, there are free tuition benefits and flexible shifting schedules. All these are symbolic of the value the CEO places on his staff.

Benefit to External Audience

Denning (2016) states that a good leader takes a little more of the blame and a little less of the credit of his employees. Starbuck’s CEO and Chairman Howard Schultz is popular for letting his employees take the credit for Starbucks’ success. In addition, he took responsibility for the murders of the three employees killed at the Georgetown’s store in 1997. The business world respected him as a leader which made him receive global acclaim for his act of cutting short his vacation and flying to console the families of the bereaved staff. As a result, many people were intrigued with the idea of joining the Starbucks team to work in such an environment where employees are appreciated and valued (Stallard, 2011).

Qualities of a good leader

A great leader impacts his or her followers through idealized influence (Post, 2015). Howard Schultz acted as a role model to his employees by flying to Washington immediately after he heard the news of the death of the three employees. He had the choice of sending his personal assistant or any other representative but instead, he chose to go there in person. In addition, he had the choice of waiting till his vacation was over but instead, he decided to cut it short and visit families of the bereaved. As a result, he earned his employees’ trust and confidence which challenged them to give their best at their work. In addition, he set a good example to all the managers, directors and supervisors on how best to handle such cases (Chris, 2015).


            Chris (2015) states that every leader is a manager but not every manager is a leader. The difference is that leaders focus on the heart while managers focus on the mind. Howard Schultz is a vivid example of a leader, who is passionate about the growth and success of his employees. His transformational style of leadership has attracted a vast majority of his staff, which has led to the tremendous growth and success of Starbucks. According to Denning (2016), a great leader develops more leaders while ordinary leaders develop more followers. Howard Schultz has succeeded in transforming each of Starbuck’s employee into a leader like himself through his inspiration and influence.



Denning, S. (2016). A Leadership lesson from Howard Schultz. Retrieved online from:

Leadership Strategies: Leadership style

Post, J. (2015). 11 ways to define leadership.  Retrieved online from:

Stallard, M. (2011). The heart of Starbuck’s CEO. Retrieved online from:

The Heart of Starbucks’ CEO

Vogel, S. & Thompson, C. (1997). 3 Employees killed at D.C Starbucks. Retrieved online from: