Marriott on the Move



You Can't Lead With Your Feet on the Desk

Posted: March 2, 2011 11:33:19 AM

You Can't Lead With Your Feet On The Desk Ed Fuller, our president and managing director of international lodging, knows first hand that you can’t lead with your feet on the desk. You’ve got to get those boots on the ground, as Ed says, and I agree with him.  Ed has shown that by just returning from Egypt where we have seven hotels.  When the recent civil unrest unfolded, he knew there was no substitute for being there in person to help our hotel owners and associates through this very difficult, challenging time. 

Ed has just written a new book called — what else? — You Can’t Lead With Your Feet on the Desk.  Among the many great management tips he shares are three that I recommend to you:

One: to respect is to inspire.  The hotel business is all about service, which means it’s all about motivating our frontline people. We can see to it that you get a comfortable bed, but if the person at the front desk hasn’t made you feel very, very welcome, the bed won’t feel great. A salary won’t motivate people to deliver service; they need to believe that they will rise through the organization and find new opportunities if they really take care of our customers. The respect we show our people through a policy that “promotes from within” pays dividends in the experience that our guests enjoy.

Number two: you have to earn trust.  Like respect, trust is essential to any productive, long-lasting business relationship and it relies on mutual give-and-take. Each party must trust the other. That said, the ultimate responsibility for forming a strong bond of trust resides with the leader. To earn the trust of employees, partners and associates, leaders must be ready to stand with them through the good times and the bad. 

Third: lead from the front, as Ed certainly did in Egypt.  A leader by definition has to be on the front line when necessary, taking responsibility for any flak the troops get for doing the job you’ve set them out to do. That way, when you hand out an assignment, your people can be confident that you have clear and personal knowledge of what you’re asking them to do.  You’ve been there and done that.

Whether you’re the leader of a mega-enterprise, the owner of the local corner drugstore or a young executive just starting out, your ultimate success will more often than not, depend on the mutual respect and care you consistently demonstrate for the people around you. So, get out from behind your desk, your phone, or your shop counter. You’ll be amazed with what you learn, with the positive impact you can make and by the opportunities that most assuredly will come your way.  Get your boots on the ground and your feet off the desk.

I’m Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move.


You Can't Lead With Your Feet on the Desk



Posted By: Juliette Adams (03/02/2011 at 09:41 PM)

Mr. Marriott:

Excellent sharing! Full of passion and “hands on.” I love it all the way: “Inspiration, Trust and Leadership from the front” in action. You certainly exemplified an excellent cyberspace mentor emulating, “The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher” - Luke 6:40.

Thanks you for sharing your passion that strong exemplary leadership is having “your feet off the desk” and “your feet on the ground” as you keep “Marriott on the Move.”

Posted By: Yap Boh Tiong (03/02/2011 at 11:14 PM)

In the course of my working for Marriott, I had the opportunity to meet Mr Fuller on a number of occasions. Two incidents stood out--when he demonstrated his maxim of going out there to be with the troops and partners. At the Islamabad Marriott bomb site, he was seen assessing/ reviewing the situation with the Pakistani owner on how to get the hotel back on its feet. Little wonder the hotel bounced back within a short period of time.
At the Jakarta bomb incident which affected the JW Marriott and Ritz Carlton, he flew in two days after the incident, to give a town hall briefing to the staff, praising and thanking them for the way they coped and managed the many stakeholders during that trying period.
He certainly walked the talk. I look forward to reading his book and gaining more inspiration.

Boh-Tiong Yap

Posted By: Paula Kiger (03/02/2011 at 11:26 PM)

I appreciate these comments, and I appreciate how that tone has been demonstrated to me consistently over the years as I have visited Marriott venues (especially my favorite, the Marco Island Resort in Marco Island, FL).

Far too often these days, we see organizations who either don't have a vision at all or have one that the organization has yet to rally around. You make a good point - the leader can't nurture the vision from behind the desk as easily as he or she can standing side by side with their team.

Posted By: Reneta (03/03/2011 at 08:33 AM)

We are so excited to have Ed Fuller coming to speak at The 86th Annual Hotel Ezra Cornell at the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University! Ed will be here April 7-10th, 2011.

****To learn more about the program and to register for The 86th Annual Hotel Ezra Cornell, please visit:****

Posted By: Frank (03/03/2011 at 10:30 AM)

Mr. Marriott, great advice to bad most company leaders don't understand the concepts you have strived for. Treat your employees well and they take of your customers. Never been disappointed by your hotels or employees.

Posted By: Keith Harris (03/03/2011 at 10:34 AM)

Talking of Leadership, the Marriot Shanghai Tomorrow Square is one of the best Hotels I have ever stayed in 25 years of International travel. Kudos deserved from the top down.

Posted By: M. Park (03/03/2011 at 08:06 PM)

Impressive... thank you for sharing your passions and wise thoughts. To manage the company is not easy; I am a foreigner who works in China. I became very patient to understand different culture and different way to thing. YEs, very challenging still.

In China, the hospitality industry is still undeveloped, I have experienced 'Not-friendly welcome attitude' at the well-known brand hotels. Some of Chinese managers were even worst than normal waitress or waiter. Some chinese staffs may have double standards - very nice to Westerners but not that friendly to Asian-looking foreigners or local Chinese. Interesting experiences so far.

Talking of warm-hospitality or service, the Marriot Shanghai Tomorrow Square was not that impressive. I am going to have lunch again next Saturday and let's see if their service has been improved.

Thanks again for your article. I would like to read more about your wise thoughts and advice...

Posted By: Chris Workmon (03/04/2011 at 12:05 AM)

Dear Bill,
I've been looking around the site, and found this maybe the best venue to express our thanks to your excellent staff. In particular I would like to thank Greg at the San Bruno Courtyard. Due to rather late but necessary last min arrangements for a death in the family, I had made a few mistakes in booking and to make the story short, because of caring and personal treatment, I will not forget Greg and his help in a difficult time, or that this is the excellent treatment from the Marriot Family, that always makes us feel as though we are a part of that family.
Thanks again.
Chris and Arlene W.

Posted By: Jonathon S. Zink (03/04/2011 at 01:57 PM)

I very much look forward to reading Ed's new book. As a highly respected global leader, Ed's experiences and stories are very important, educational, and inspirational for many people. I am a strong believer that bringing people together from many countries all over the world is one step towards world peace.

Posted By: Paul Bergé (03/05/2011 at 10:40 AM)

Mr. Marriott

We love the Marriott chain for its breadth of brands as each hotel provides excellent service in line with the expectations one has for each brand. Although we have a daughter in senior position at another hotel chain, when ttraveling our loyalty is to Marriott because we have never been disappointed. Having said this we stayed recently at the Macon, GA Courtyard where the service was good but the mattress was the worst we ever slept on.
This will not deter our loyalty though as I know you will get this fixed.

Posted By: Derrek Thomason (03/07/2011 at 03:57 PM)

Mr. Marriott,

My wife, son, and I love your hotels. From the JW Marriot Desert Ridge in Phoenix, to the New Orleans Marriott, to the Residence Inn in Memphis, two things among others are always at your hotels. Those things are friendly, helpful employees and a clean and tidy facility. Keep up the good work.

Posted By: Nancy (03/07/2011 at 05:56 PM)

Still waiting to get the full story on the split of Marriott into 2 companies. For those of us who bought Marriott time share weeks as a result of years and years of being loyal to Marriott hotels, it looks we're getting the shaft. How about getting us the full story.

Posted By: Chris Workmon (03/09/2011 at 01:41 AM)

My apollogies, for misspelling the name one of your best employees. His name is Grant, not Greg. But my sentiments remain, we're on our way back to New Orleans in the morning, and after a week of staying with the Marriot brand, as always, your staff should be held up to the world as the icon of friendly and knowlegable folks that always make staying with you like "home away from Home"

Posted By: Paul Green (03/09/2011 at 07:54 PM)

A leader by definition has to be on the front line when necessary, taking responsibility for any flak the troops get for doing the job you’ve set them out to do. That way, when you hand out an assignment, your people can be confident that you have clear and personal knowledge of what you’re asking them to do. You’ve been there and done that.

>>>> Whether you’re the leader of a mega-enterprise, the owner of the local corner drugstore or a young executive just starting out, your ultimate success will more often than not, depend on the mutual respect and care you consistently demonstrate for the people around you.
This attitude really shows when you are a Marriott consumer. It is astonishing how Marriott achieves such consistent good service worldwide. I have used it as a model for my own very small business.

Posted By: Tracie M (03/10/2011 at 12:35 AM)

One thing I'd mention. I hear you talk about your "frontline" people a lot. And by it, you seem to mean front desk people. I'd ask you Mr. Marriott, why do you never talk about your REAL frontline people. The ones answering the phones and taking my reservations?
I have had some amazing experiences with them, and I notice you NEVER speak of them. I wonder if they get insulted?

Posted By: Victoria Adams (03/10/2011 at 10:50 AM)

I recently spent seven weeks (due to a house fire) at the Residence Inn at Dallas Central Expressway. I would like you to know how nicely I was treated by the whole staff; from Ruthie's wonderful meals, John, Vickie, and Christian at the front desk, all the housekeeping staff and security. Everyone smled and asked about how we were doing. You do an excellent job of preparing your front line people to do their jobs. Also, the groundskeepers worked very hard to make it safe because of the terrible weather we had before and during the Super Bowl. It was a very good experience under the worst circumstance.
Thank you so much.
Victoria Adams
Dallas, TX

Posted By: Brandy (03/12/2011 at 08:14 AM)

Dear Mr Marriott,
I am writing to thank you and your excellent staff at the Chicago Marriott Suites, especially Azule at the front desk. I am a working mom with a four month old baby. I recently travelled to Chicago for a one-day meeting at the hotel, and since I am still breastfeeding my son, I needed to pump breastmilk during the course of the day. When I asked if there was a bathroom space available for this, Azule offered me the complimentary use of a guestroom for the day! You have won my loyalty - thank you.

Posted By: Meredith Carlson (03/17/2011 at 02:07 PM)

Dear Mr. Marriot,
I want to let you know how impressed I was by one of your employees that made our reservation for the Marriot at Hunt Valley, MD. I was not able to get through to the survey, but I wanted to make sure she was recognized for her outstanding job. If you could have someone call me, I will give you the details. Best regards, M. Carlson

Posted By: Donald DeCorte (03/18/2011 at 10:33 AM)

Dear Marriott management. I am not sure where else to send this "thankyou." I stayed at the Fairfield Auburn Hill Michigan on Wed. March 16th with my son. I accidently (absentmindedly) left my hat and prescription glasses on the table in the room and proceeded to drive 3 hours back home to Grand Rapids. Once I discovered my mistake (panic set in) I called the hotel. Krystal ******** your Assistant General Manager made a great effort to find my "stuff" get it packaged up carefully and shipped to me the very same day!!! I have been taveling and using Marriott properties for 32 years and I promise you I will continue to do so whenever possible in future.
Sincerely, Don DeCorte-Grand Rapids MI

Posted By: Floren Cabrera de Teresa (04/06/2011 at 12:02 AM)

Congratulations! We say that we are in the business of Happiness, but you are the EXAMPLE of what this means.

I always feel 100% or even 110% satisfied at Marriott Hotels, especially the Mayflower in Washington, D.C.

Congratulations on pure Excellence!

Kind regards,

Floren Cabrera de Teresa
Managing Director
Cantex Asset Management

Posted By: Floren Cabrera de Teresa (04/06/2011 at 12:35 PM)

Dear Mr. Marriott,

I am a great admirer of the Marriott Organization, your people, your hotels and your amazing philosophy. Your blog is also great, by the way. We recently had an amazing experience with Marriott and we really look forward to the opportunity of staying at your magnificent hotels.
Please accept my humble praise.
Floren, Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Posted By: Phil n Jane Strick (04/08/2011 at 05:13 PM)

Good read and true. We have reservations at the new Cosmopolitan this June. When I asked the Concierge about restaurant ideas - she told me to look at the web page! Now that is going above
and beyond for sure! We will pretty much only stay at Marriott in our global and domestic travels. We also own four weeks of the Marriott Timeshares and love them!

Posted By: mom in biz (04/11/2011 at 02:13 PM)

and this goes for family relationships as well...when the family is running well so will your business...thank you!

Posted By: Bill (05/30/2011 at 12:39 PM)

Mr. Marriott,
I was looking around the gift shop at the Marriott Marquis in Atlanta and ended up reading the first part of it. I then decided to purchase the book and will keep it as a reference. I remember a book years ago that I think was written by you which was similarly engaging.

One suggestion I do have is to widen the distribution of the book so that the price can be lowered from the $30 I paid. The information is valuable but given the price point of books, it would gain a greater recognition at a lowered price.

Posted By: Judith Brashear (07/13/2011 at 08:29 PM)

Dear Mr. Marriott,
I totally agree with all of the statements made here about the Marriott culture and the consistency of the Marriott brands when traveling as a Platinum member.
Recently I have not had such a good experience with Marriott however. The Customer Relations Department seems to be the problem. I usually don't ever interact with them, but recently I've had to call and email them regarding a problem. They are totally in tune to sending form letters to answer problems via email - these emails could apply to almost any problem - at the end they thank me for my affiliation and that seems to be the end. I'm disappointed with the service.

The comments to this entry are closed.


I'm Bill Marriott, Chairman & CEO of Marriott International.

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