What do you think?

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I follow many business leaders in the retail and hospitality industry but it’s hard to find a better success story than Bill Marriot.  As the former CEO and executive chairman of Marriot International, his management style is legend.  It could be said that he learned about success from his father J.W. Marriott who turned his local root beer shop into a hotel chain in the 1950’s. Bill was charged with taking this American success story to the next level which is no easy task.  Today Marriot International manages more than 3,900 properties in 72 countries and employs around 325,000 people around the globe.

In his management blog, Marriot tells the story of meeting former President Dwight Eisenhower and learning the power of the question “What do you think?” Those words “What do you think?” are really a key to good leadership. They give valued team members, guests and vendors an opportunity to express their opinion.  They tell people that you really care about their insights and are willing to hear their perspectives.  In my industry this is key. I encourage our leadership team to share their opinions because great leaders listen first and evaluate before making decisions. 

I’m also passionate about listening to our guests. While we can’t be all things to all people, we can ask that very important question and consider all feedback. We have a very effective guest response program called “Talk to Dickeys” that we look at closely on a daily basis.  We use this as a scorecard on how well we are serving our guests. We also monitor review sites and actively engage with guests on all social channels.  Listening to what our guests think is imperative to staying relevant and we take it very seriously.

Bill Marriott joined the Marriott Corporation in 1956, became president in November 1964, and CEO in 1972. In his many years at the helm of his family’s company he came up with 12 rules for success. They still apply today and may be even more important than ever.

12 Rules for Success from Bill Marriot

1.      Challenge your team to do better and do it often.

2.      Take good care of your associates, and they’ll take good care of your customers, and they’ll come back.

3.      Celebrate your peoples’ success, not your own.

4.      Know what you’re good at and keep improving.

5.      Do it and do it now. Err on the side of taking action.

6.      Communicate by listening to your customers, associates and competitors.

7.      See and be seen. Get out of your office, walk the talk, make yourself visible and accessible.

8.      Success is always in the details.

9.      It’s more important to hire people with the right qualities than with specific experience.

10.  Customer needs may vary, but their bias for quality never does.

11.  Always hire people who are smarter than you are.

12.  View every problem as an opportunity to grow.

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit started as a small barbecue joint with a limited menu but lots of personality behind the block.  My grandfather was skilled at engaging guests and never shy about asking for feedback on his food.  We take the same approach with all parts of our business.  If you’re not asking questions then you’re not learning anything. Bill Marriott’s 12 rules are definitely a playbook for success and his favorite question has become my favorite as well.  That’s just my opinion…but “what do you think?