Recently, I was involved with a theatre production in New York.
When the cast got off the plane, I was astounded at the amount of work that had gone into the readiness and the reception, for not only the cast, but the entire team. The volunteers had food set up and had transportation available on demand. In the entertainment world, divas and high performers expect that level of service, but that was not what this was; these were all volunteers.
This was true hospitality. This was community influencers and leaders who understood the power of having a hospitality mindset in a high-stakes environment. They knew that if they showed the cast hospitality and really received them well, that they would perform better. It would elicit a sense of reciprocity and the cast, in turn, would want to do as much as they could for them.
It’s a very natural way of leadership, and it’s essential to the “Lawrencian” (as in Lawrence of Arabia) skills that we talk about. Lawrence mobilized the entire Badu tribe to confederate and overthrow the city of Aqaba, the crown jewel of the Ottoman Turks, and this really turned the table in World War I; using, among other strategies, a hospitality mindset.
Understanding the power of hospitality has tremendous business impacts for those in the modern era, especially when you think about how distracted, disengaged, and depleted of trust our world is.
While still in the military, I would go to places in Afghanistan that were completely trust depleted and violent, yet an elder would bring us into his home, give us his last quarter of meat, share his fire with us, tell us stories, and make us feel welcome. As a result of that, trust was accelerated and it demonstrated the elder’s status and ability to take care of business. It’s a powerful leadership tool that is rarely used today.
We are social creatures at our core but today some people seldom answer the door when someone knocks.
We once routinely welcomed people in. Even unannounced visitors would expect a warm greeting. When we demonstrate hospitality in our life and business, it still elicits the same primal response that it did with our ancestors.
The same hospitality that I experienced in Afghanistan is just as effective as the hospitality I witnessed with the theatre production in New York. It’s just as effective in your office. It’s just as effective when you use hospitality to land a second meeting. Hospitality elicits connection and reciprocity.
Recently, my wife and I went to a wedding. The hospitality that they showed us, the way they made us feel, and the perceived sense of safety and trust is something I have never seen before at a wedding. I hate weddings, but the hospitality was so genuine that I felt a primal connection to the whole experience.
So where in your life have you seen it? Has it been at a restaurant? Has it been at someone else’s office? Where have you seen hospitality and what made it so possible? What did it make you feel?
Evaluate hospitality in your life. Look at your business, nonprofit, and office. Are you showing hospitality to your clients? Are you showing hospitality on your sales call or are you just being transactional?
Are you showing hospitality when your people come in to talk to you at the office?
If you’re running events or workshops, how are you treating the participants? If you’re selling online products, what’s their experience like? Is there someone working hospitality?
In your own home, how do your kids’ friends feel when they come in? Do you stand up and shake their hand? Do you welcome them into your home or do you just kind of nod at them while you keep working on your laptop?
How we treat people in our life and business determines how they will treat us, how they will think about us, and how they will perform when we’re not looking.
Scott Mann is a former Green Beret who specialized in unconventional, high-impact missions and relationship building. He is the founder of Rooftop Leadership and appears frequently on TV and many syndicated radio programs. For more information, visit RooftopLeadership.com