What Do You Think?

February 19, 2014

1954 Jr with Navy cap2Back in 1954, I came home from the U.S. Navy Supply Corps School for Christmas. My father was a good friend of Ezra Taft Benson who was at that time the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. Somehow they finagled to get Eisenhower to come down to our family farm in Virginia. Eisenhower was President of the United States at the time, and of course I’d never met a president. It was a cold winter day; it was about the 22nd of December – wind was blowing, it was 20 degrees outside. The staff had put a lot of quail and pheasants out there for Ike to shoot because they knew he loved to shoot birds. And they said “Mr. President, what do you want to do? It’s awful cold out there. Do you want to go out and shoot birds or do you want to stay in by the fire?”  And I was standing behind him and he turned all the way around, looked me in the eye, and he said “What do you think, Bill?” And I thought, “Oh my goodness!” I said, “Mr. President, it’s awful cold, let’s stay in the by the fire.” He said “Good Idea!” So we stayed in by the fire.

1955 Ike at FarmThe whole point of that is, those words “What do you think?” are really a key to good leadership. They give you an opportunity to express your opinion, they show that your boss is interested in you, interested in your opinion and that he or she is willing to pursue what you are thinking about. I think that’s how Eisenhower got along with all those people he had to deal with during the Second World War as a general. He had to deal with Patton, Stalin and Roosevelt, and with Marshall, Churchill, De Gaulle, and crazy Montgomery. They were a real bunch of characters. Ike got through it all and led us to victory. Because I’m sure a lot of times he asked that question “What do you think?” He didn’t necessarily do what they told him to do but they knew he was interested in what they had to say. And that’s so important in our business.

I want to know what the Marriott leaders are thinking and what direction they want to take our company in. Is your company’s leader asking you what you think? Don’t be afraid to share your opinions. A great leader listens and evaluates before making a decision. 

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I love this. It is so important to ask open ended questions to your TEAM that they too can be encouraged to push boundaries and think of answers to questions or problems they would not ordinarily be accountable for. This creates innovation and ultimately grows leading companies.

Great story, Mr Marriott. I am a Guest Relations at a TownePlace Suites, and my General Manager has been asking me my opinion about a lot of matters. It caught me off guard at first, but I am happy that she is turning to me for a second opinion on our day to day operations. It is something I will keep in mind when speaking to other employees. Thank you.

I wish more people in my world would ask me what I think.I am surrounded by an environment where they key phrase is "voluntold" or "do as I say". So many people these days prefer to tell you what to do and respond with "that's just how I have always done this so you will continue to do this the same way", rather than ask "what do you think?". I wish I could say it was generational, and maybe it is, an older generation not used to change vs a younger generation all about change. There are then people like me caught in between, who would like to be asked an opinion but never are.

Opinions generate new ideas and new ideas bring change and improvement.

This is such a simple yet powerful question; I look forward to employing its use more often. I am not asked it often, but I will openly answer it without prompting as a part of how I manage upward and to the side. I see our company aligning more like sports teams and supporting the Host that we lead like a coach does.

Most of us do not realize how important these four words can be. In my position (GRM at a Marriott property) if a guest had an issue within the hotel, after solving it, when it comes to compensation, I always ask "what would you suggest"? Many times I get an very simple answer, asking for little or just thanking me for taking care of it and solving the problem.

Thanks Bill for sharing your experience..It was truly inspirational and has clearly explained its motto defining a better way to deal with the clients or with the sub-ordinates.

well there is not always the opportunity for management to ask THAT specific question, but because I care, I just just offer

Mr. Marriott I have just celebrated 11 years with our company. I joined the Marriott Team as I was finishing up a fun 4 years of college, it has been an amazing and rewarding adventure. I truly enjoy the business we do and the passion and dedication that goes into our success. I think with the X and Y Generations moving into our talent pool and customer base we will need to keep up. More families are seeing both parents in the workforce focusing on careers, how can we help them with the childcare cost of a growing family and support their career growth at the same time. Looking at our customers I am passionate about technology and how it can interface with our business. As we innovate and continue to explore more options I look forward to the arrival experience starting curbside from an iPad device and haveing the information needed at the touch of a finger. Need to navigate to your meeting room for a breakout, just use your way finder app and don't forget about the cup of coffee on the way. I am sure we already have a team in the innovation lab working on that, now that would be a fun place to hang out. :) Just a few ideas, but most importantly, thanks for asking.

I think that I like your blogs! I also think when I am asked what I think I appreciate the opportunity to express my thoughts.