Howard Schultz wrote that.
These words, however, are only useful when they are put in the context of what he communicated prior to giving the directive.
Schultz is stepping down as executive chairman of Starbucks. There’s no doubting his success as a leader. How many people do you know with the skill to grow a company from 11 stores to more than 28,000 in 77 countries?
Importantly, it’s how Schultz was successful that matters: He started and advanced a movement. He reimagined how we consume coffee. And in the process, he redefined the responsibilities of publicly-held companies.
And how did he do all that? He mobilized hearts and minds. He worked to bring the best out of people. He trusted what most of us know is true: Profits come when your brand and work stand for something that truly matters to people.
There’s more that is important to how Schultz leads, however.
There are leaders who attempt to energize large groups of people by focusing on what matters to them, but what matters to them is dismissive, even ruinous, to the humanity around them. History proves such rallying efforts are short lived and left to be studied for their destructive outcomes.
That’s why the words stated by Howard Schultz just before he communicated “Do not be a bystander” are important. Because he’s telling us to be a certain type of participant: “Amid the chaos, try to listen with empathy, respond with kindness, and do your best to perform through the lens of humanity,” Schultz wrote. After these words, he followed with: “Do not be a bystander.”
Our world doesn’t merely need more people to participate. We need participants who can enter the fray and insist that even though we may disagree with each other, we can still become better together.
Do not be a bystander. Be the participant we need.