Be Nice to Strangers

Be hospitable.
Hilton Hotel motto

Rather, he must be hospitable,
one who loves what is good,
who is self-controlled, upright,
holy and disciplined.
Bible, Titus 1:8

Conrad Hilton, the founder of the Hilton hotel chain, was an avid reader of the Bible. We can only surmise that he decided to use this source in determining the motto for his hotel chain. In describing the qualifications of a leader when writing to Titus, Paul lists five negatives—qualities that a leader should not have, such as a quick temper or someone who seeks dishonest gain. He then gives six positives, and the first is "be hospitable," which ranks above being holy and disciplined. Why is hospitality so important for a great leader?

We get the word for hospitality from the Greek term, philoxenos, which is a combination of philos, or friend, and xenos, or stranger. Someone who is hospitable is a 'friend of strangers." It describes one who is generous, welcoming and friendly to visitors, guests and strangers, giving practical help to anyone in need.

Leaders are expected to treat their people well. But, how well do they treat strangers? Whether from a childhood experience of being told not to talk to strangers, aloofness due to position, busyness, introversion or complacency, many leaders are not hospitable, and can even be considered antagonistic. The behavior of a leader toward strangers is often a good indicator of character. Is he dismissive of others? Does she display distrust of outsiders? Or, is she positive and cordial, attentive to needs and open to new ideas?

The surpassing leader highly values strangers. He knows there is no such thing as a stranger—only a potential new customer, partner or employee. She also knows that strangers bring knowledge and experience that can be very helpful. Strangers also bring entire new networks, expanding the leader's influence.

King Solomon was known as the wisest man on earth during his lifetime. You would think that he would have no use for strangers. Yet, he was very welcoming of guests, especially those from distant lands. His wisdom told him it was wise to be hospitable.

As you are hospitable, your people will follow your lead and they will learn and grow, strengthening your organization.

Do you have a reputation for being hospitable? If you desire to lead beyond measure, go out of your way to be friendly to strangers.

Action Points
• Are you welcoming and friendly to strangers?
• Do you reach out to others, or do you expect them to reach out to you?
• Is your organization known for hospitality?

Payoff
New partners, friends, customers and employees, greater wisdom, more far reaching networks

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