October 29th, 2007
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Humility in an Age of Swagger

file under Bill Marriott, David Marriott, Fred Malek, Washington Post - Fred Malek @ 3:18 pm
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Today’s Washington Post has as its lead in the Business Section, an article on 34 year old David Marriott, Bill Marriott’s youngest son.  The article discussed the major sales reorganization David is leading at Marriott and quotes me as an owner of Marriott hotels:

“A regional sales approach will definitely have greater appeal to the clients who we must ultimately serve and therefore should increase brand preference,” said Fred Malek, a former top executive at Marriott who owns several of the company’s hotels. “But it also has to be blended with consideration for the profit/loss interest of individual general managers in a diverse ownership group.”

This is a good article about a fine young man, who may indeed one day follow in his Father’s footsteps and head Marriott International.  However, the article only touches on what is one of the core characteristics of humility shared by both Bill and David Marriott.  This humility has earned them deep respect as well as affection.  There is no swagger, no pronouncements from on high.  In my eight years as President of Marriott Hotels, reporting to Bill Marriott, he did a lot of listening, careful to acknowledge and in many cases defer to the expertise of executives in various specialties.  He listened, learned, made the right decisions, and rallied people around these decisions.  It was a lesson in leadership, it was an exhibition of humility, and it demonstrated how humility and consensus building can strengthen leadership and produce results.

David has inherited these characteristics of his Father, and in my view they are a large part of the reason for his past success and promising future.

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