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UCLA

Starbucks CEO Wins Wooden Award

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By Paul Feinberg '85 and Susanna Park

Published May 29, 2008 8:33 AM


The UCLA Anderson School of Management honored Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz with a gala celebration at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on May 28, giving Schultz the first-ever John Wooden Global Leadership Award.

Anderson's Dean, Judy D. Olian, presented the award to Schultz in recognition of his exemplary leadership style and service to the community. "As he has led (Starbucks), Howard always said that the main goal was 'to serve a great cup of coffee' by 'building a company with soul.' It's certainly worked out," Olian said.

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Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz

Schultz expressed his gratitude both for the award and the opportunity to spend time with Wooden. "I have struggled with what to say," Schultz said. "When you listen to Coach Wooden, read his books, it's humbling (to accept an award bearing his name). I accept with a deep sense of humility and honor.

"We live in a time where there are not so many people who speak so honestly about how to treat people," Schultz said. "It's a shame we don't have more people in America and around the world like John Wooden."

The Anderson school's new John Wooden Global Leadership Program promotes the principles of pride, commitment to ethics, and respect for teamwork promulgated by the former basketball coach. Each year, the school will present the award to an individual embodying Wooden's philosophy of leadership and for his or her exemplary leadership and service to the community. Proceeds from the dinner will fund the John Wooden Leadership Fellowships, awarded annually to two UCLA Anderson M.B.A. students.

"Coach Wooden always advocated to 'treat all people with dignity and respect.'" said Dean Olian. "It is very bold, and I might say unusual, that the first of Starbuck’s six guiding principles is 'to provide a great work environment and treat each other with respect and dignity' ... While Howard wasn't the first person to be carried away by the aroma of a well-roasted coffee bean, through his leadership and his beliefs, he was undoubtedly the first to turn that experience into a billion dollar retail operation."

Highlighting the event were a pair of unscripted discussions. First, Wooden chatted with Fortune magazine's managing editor Andy Serwer, with Schultz joining the pair later in the evening. Wooden regaled Serwer and the audience with wit, wisdom and poetry, noting that "A leader must command respect. You must let others know you care for them. Effective leadership is when you join people in a common goal and no one cares who gets the credit."

When Schultz came on stage, the two leaders revealed they had much in common, such as placing a high value on trust and the importance of listening, whether listening subordinates or bosses. Both also revealed how they learned their core leadership values in their youth: Wooden from his father, an Indiana farmer, and Schultz on the school yards of Brooklyn and in his diverse neighborhood.

Coach Wooden, one of the most successful coaches in college basketball history, has also earned fame as an author, philosopher and motivational speaker. He has spoken at conferences around the globe, has presented his leadership philosophy to many of the world's major corporations and their leaders, and has been honored by numerous institutions and heads of state.

The award, Wooden says, "Represents my conviction that character is more important than any other leadership trait."

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