Why Great Leaders Greet People They Don’t Know


By Jas Singh

My job involves a lot of “selling”.

Meeting new clients, giving presentations, recently even being interviewed myself.

Selling is not something that came naturally to me. Coming from a science background, a few years ago just the thought of approaching new people “cold” used to make me judder.

To develop my confidence, I read anything I could get my hands on. Yet strangely enough the best piece of advice I was ever given was by a mentor of mind who used to run global sales at First Data Corporation.

“Successful selling is all in the head Jas” he once told me. “All to do with confidence. You see, most of us live in small boxes – we speak to the same people every day and so when we have to approach new people we feel uncomfortable.”

“Make speaking to new people a regular habit. Just by saying good morning to whoever crosses your path at the start of each day“.

As simple as it seems that last line changed my life.

Even today, when I go for my 15 minute jog in the morning, I make it a rule to say good morning whenever I can to whoever passes by.

Since then, cold calling has felt…er…normal.

In ten years as a hiring specialist I’ve worked with some great leaders. And I’ve noticed that many of them regularly open up conversations with new people enthusiastically. Whether it’s saying good morning to someone on the tube, asking the waitress how her days going or getting to know the office security guard.

Here are some reasons why great leaders enthusiastically greet new people they don’t know.


It creates warmth 

As social creatures we crave emotional connection.

It’s what gives us purpose, makes us feel complete, even allowed us to survive during traumatic times.

We all appreciate being wished good morning or complimented on our new outfit.

Yet strangely, as we advance technologically, we’re becoming more isolated socially. More reliant on clicks, posts and messages than communicating with each other in the flesh.

Great leaders understand that no screen or buzz can replace the impact of personal connection. The butterflies, warmth or intensity of meeting someone in real-life.

Great leaders create energy.

It differentiates 

When was the last time someone walked past you on the street and wished you good morning for no reason?

Chances are if anyone has done recently, you’d remember them.

In a world where most people are glued to their phone screens on train carriages or fixated to their computer screens in the office, people who look up to say hello get noticed.

And with such competition for attention, this differentiation can often be key.

Great leaders go the extra mile.

The look around. They notice others. They smile and say hello.


It creates new opportunity 

Four years ago, I was at a conference in Frankfurt. Whilst taking a walk late one evening, I came across a man who was looking obviously lost. I had no idea where he wanted to go but offered for him to come to my hotel where he could order a cab.

Whilst walking back, we started introducing ourselves. He happened to be a partner in a well known European Hedge Fund. We exchanged cards and last year they were one of our fastest growing clients.

Opportunity exists everywhere. Yet often the best ones arise not when we are actively looking to “sell stuff” but more the result of a naturally flowing conversation.

Great leaders regularly greet new people with warmth and enthusiasm since they realize that this unexpected and welcomed connection can often be the platform for new opportunity.

New people equals new opportunity.


A smile, a hello or a compliment costs nothing.

Yet it’s impact can be massive.

Our species is amazing and it makes sense to reach out and connect with as many people as possible.

Hiring managers can gain much from those people who love making new connections and greet new people whenever they can.

Those are the precious people who everyone loves being around.

Do you say good morning to people you don’t know?

If you are a hiring manager and want to hire outstanding people, please reach out here