Servant Leadership Workplace-Magic Cup

Howard Behar – The Magic Cup

Few people know more about servant leadership than Howard Behar.

So, I was happy when I learned that Howard had written a second book, The Magic Cup. 

Howard is the retired president of Starbucks International. He played an essential role in the Starbucks success story. The title of his first book is self-explanatory: It’s Not about the Coffee: Leadership Principles from a Life at Starbucks.

The Magic Cup is different from its predecessor. It’s a fantasy reminiscent of Through the Looking Glass and The Wizard of Oz.

But set in the corporate world.

The main character, Vince Steadfast, is the new CEO of an iconic corporate giant called Verity Glassworks. His first day on the job, Steadfast discovers that Verity may be bankrupt.

This proves to be the least of Steadfast’s worries.

Indeed, Steadfast is surprised when he enters the Verity headquarters. It’s dark and deserted – except for a few characters that could well have come from the pens of Lewis Carrol or L. Frank Baum.

Steadfast soon finds himself on a quest, leading a small team to the top of a skyscraper in search of something that transcends the traditional corporate bottom line – a mysterious “Treasure Beyond All Price.”

As he begins, Steadfast says to himself: “Companies could crumble because frightened or misguided leadership forgot where they came from and what their core purpose really was.”

In large part, the quest itself is about remembering. Remembering “where they came from.” Remembering “what their core purpose really was.” Steadfast and the team share an intuitive sense that such remembering may save Verity from extinction.

There are ups and downs along the way – literally and figuratively – including encounters with a piggish COO and a giant spider, among other fantastic characters.

As the team climbs, The Magic Cup illuminates – literally and figuratively – eleven values:

  • Responsibility
  • Curiosity
  • Cooperation
  • Trust
  • Truth
  • Hope
  • Forgiveness
  • Focus
  • Stewardship
  • Courage
  • Connection

Howard helps us see how these values inform life as well as leadership.

Without spoiling the end, I’ll offer four takeaways from The Magic Cup.

First, it’s a fun read. The tone is authentic, not preachy. Howard believes what he says. By all accounts, Howard Behar has walked the servant leadership talk.

Second, you’re bound to find some familiar characters in Howard’s pages. I noticed my blood pressure rising when Howard described one particular corporate villain.

Third, The Magic Cup reminds us that leadership is messy business. People make mistakes. Steadfast included. We should forgive ourselves when we do.

Fourth and finally: back to remembering. We may now know the values Howard describes. But, being human, we’re liable to forget them. So, The Magic Cup serves as an important aide–memoir. It helps us keep constantly mindful about what’s important.

I heartily recommend The Magic Cup. Click here to buy it on Amazon: The Magic Cup