The CEO of Starbucks and the Practice of Ethical Leadership
Along with character as a cornerstone for anyone’s practice of ethical leadership, we can look at the five additional ethical leadership practices Skeet identifies as a way to explore whether Johnson’s actions are enhancing his impact as an ethical leader in his role as Starbucks CEO.
- Creating Community: Did Johnson use Starbucks’ shared values as the cornerstone of his decision making after the arrests? Did his decision to close all Starbucks stores for unconscious bias training and to create a new “Third Space Policy” align with Starbucks’ mission and goals? Did his handling of the incident promote positive relationships between employees and customers? Did it encourage a sense of connectedness and shared values?
- Encouraging Ethical Conduct: Did Johnson openly acknowledge that his decision was based in ethics and morality? Did his apology and actions promote awareness of an ethical issue? Did it create a positive or negative difference in the communities Starbucks serves? Did it make a positive or negative difference for Starbucks employees and customers?
- Showing Discipline in One’s Role: Does Johnson explicitly accept responsibility for the incident and provide direction for a course correction? Does he identify ways to collaborate with others when necessary? Does he show he understands what his role is in fixing this problem?
- Clarifying Culture: Did Johnson clarify his values and the company’s values in his apology and with his subsequent actions? Did Johnson’s apology and follow-up actions uphold Starbucks’ mission and core values? Did he identify gaps between stated and actual values? Did Johnson’s apology help Starbucks employees figure out if their personal values align with the company’s?
- Designing Ethical Systems: Did Johnson’s actions have impact beyond Starbucks? Did they sent a precedent for other companies to follow? Did his apology create a conversation about unconscious bias in the workplace? How do his apology and the subsequent follow-up actions compare to other companies and CEOs that have faced similar problems?