Authenticity Culture Execution Kindness Values

Spirit to Serve

Here’s what happens when you hire and grow leaders to empower their teams to demonstrate that spirit when facing customers.

Some people have it by nature; others get it by training. Some never do.

Some people have a serving mentality just by being who they are.

Erikjan Lantink

This story is about them and to honor them.

Concretely, it is about two people working in the bar of the hotel I’m staying in while working in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

The hotel belongs to the Marriott chain. I’m a loyal Marriott customer most of the time. Provided the offering is what I need and meets my criteria.

Being part of Marriott started when we lived in the US because we made a mistake getting ourselves talked into a time-share.

Over the years, Marriott has managed to improve their product dramatically. They’ve upgraded their hotels and increased their offering in Europe.

But, primarily, they’ve acquired small authentic hotel chains and let them run under their own brands.

The hotel in Ljubljana has modern rooms, a great workout facility, nature around for my runs, good food, close to the office, and friendly people with a spirit to serve.

Spirit to serve has been Marriott’s motto for many years.

The core principle is that when you “take care of your employees and they’ll take care of your customers,”

J.W. Marriott, Sr.
This motto is founded on these ‘take care of employee’ principles:
  1. Get it right the first time.
  2. Money is a big thing, but it’s not the only thing.
  3. A caring workplace is a bottom-line issue.
  4. Promote from within.
  5. Build your brand for your associates.

These five principles all focus on getting people to work for Marriott with the right attitude and keeping them on board by doing what’s right for the customers, for them, and for the company.

For example, the first principle means that Marriott instead hires people with the right attitude, but without experience, than higher people with experience but lacking the right attitude.

The two people I got to know a little have the spirit to serve in their DNA.

Here’s how I know:

  • They’re always helpful.
  • They’re always friendly.
  • They’re quick.
  • They never consider anything impossible.
  • They have fun within the team.
  • They know their customers and their preferences and are happy to see them again when they return.
  • They ask how you’re doing and, when time allows, are happy to have a conversation.
  • They show curiosity when you show them you’re open to talking.
  • They remember my name.
  • They showed care when I had to stay in my room for a day with a bad cold (not Covid).
  • They’re empowered to do what’s right.
People like these two employees at my hotel in Ljubljana make you want to return.

And that’s how the model works.

As a business, you have a clear vision of what you stand for, in Marriott’s case, a spirit to serve.

You hire and grow leaders to empower their teams to demonstrate that spirit when facing customers.

Better, demonstrate it consistently.

You know that investing in this model will result in customers being happy with what you do and willing to provide you with their business.

You know it works this way, and make sure the model keeps running.

And most of all, you realize it starts with you.

Your turn: What’s your model?

Do more of what makes you happy!


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Erikjan Lantink
Business & Leadership Coach

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