Best of Success

Best of Success Seminar: Empower Employees With a Culture of Appreciation

Larry Marshall

December 8, 2014
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After he took over as president of L. Marshall Roofing and Sheet Metal Marshall, Larry Marshall found out his hard-charging, Type A style was not the most effective way to lead his company. “I had to figure out a way to change,” he said. “I did it by putting other people first.”

Larry Marshall shared the story of his 35 years in the roofing industry and how his experiences changed his business philosophy in a presentation titled “Servant Leadership: Empowering Employees to Create a Productive Work Environment.”

“The true servant leader leads the servant life every day,” Marshall said. “The servant culture is all about serving your family — your immediate family and the family that you spend the most amount of time with, and that’s your family at work. It’s also about serving the community on an ongoing basis because you’re an ambassador of your company to the community, and the last time I checked, there are a lot of decision makers in that community that potentially will need your services.”

According to Marshall, servant leaders are:

  • Honest with themselves
  • Introspective
  • Vulnerable
  • Accepting of others
  • Sensitive
  • Ever-present (they live in the moment)
  • Useful

“The power of leadership comes from realizing that you can’t always be in control, and that we are dependent on each other,” Marshall said.

The process of putting others first begins by looking inward, noted Marshall. “You’ve got to be honest with yourself,” he said. “You’re not perfect. Be authentic. Be yourself. Embrace your imperfection. Be honest with your team. They’ll respect you for it.”

Communication is an essential part of being a leader, and that means being a good listener and making eye contact. Marshall urged business owners to get input from employees and consider all opinions offered. “I would urge you as leaders to work for consensus,” he said. “Try not to make decisions where it’s just barely the majority, making slightly less than 50 percent of your people unhappy. Take a little bit longer and work for consensus. If you’re right, you’ll get it.”

Business owners have a responsibility to the people whose lives they touch. “Hold yourself up to the highest standards possible,” Marshall said. “We have the chance to make this world a little better. Be useful. This is the key. Be of service to your team. Be of service to your vendors. Be of service to your customers. Do this without expecting anything.”

 Expressing appreciation to employees is perhaps the crucial part of the process, and it all begins with two words: “Thank you.” “A culture of appreciation is the key to increased performance,” Marshall said. “Once you start being a servant leader, there’s no going back.” 

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