Manage This … Reaching out

Leaders with a strong leadership presence are able to reach out and connect with their people. From the book Leadership Presence by Belle Linda Halpern and Kathy Lubar, this is defined as “the ability to build relationships with others through empathy, listening, and authentic connection.”

It is essential in a business because it leads to true bottom line results through increased commitment and decreased turnover.

What does that really mean? Empathy means understanding what makes people the way they are. You don’t have to have psychology training to do this. It comes more naturally to some than others, but the skill can be developed. Frequently, managers are either scared to “cross the line of friendship” with their employees or get so task-oriented that they think empathy or reaching out is a waste of time or inappropriate. However, if you don’t do this, your people will not be committed to you and productivity will decrease while turnover increases.

Reaching out can start in simple ways such as taking the time to have non-work conversations with people. I worked with a manager who was very linear in his thinking and building relationships with others didn’t come naturally to him. However, he recognized the need for it. He literally scheduled time to walk around and check in with his employees on an informal basis. Even though people knew he scheduled the time, it still built the relationships and increased productivity and commitment.

Another key to building relationships at work is to genuinely listen to people. Listening is a skill that many think they have, but few really do. Even those who seem to be good listeners (and aren’t thinking about what they’re going to do that weekend when they are talking to you…) are frequently thinking about what they are going to say when you are talking to them. Truly effective listeners give you their full attention.

Finally, authentic connections require that you as a leader reveal something of yourself. This can be challenging for people and I frequently have clients say that they are afraid of revealing weaknesses to people with whom they work. However, if you think of truly great leaders, they are willing to admit that they are only human—this makes them more approachable and builds relationships.

Increase your amount of reaching out and connecting at work. If you’re already good at it, increase the number of people to whom you are doing this with. Take time to have informal conversations and check in on people, practice the art of truly listening and learn to reveal more of yourself. When you reach out and connect to more people, your leadership presence will increase.

To get one-on-one coaching or training to learn more specific ways to increase your leadership presence by reaching out better, contact Kerrie Halmi at Halmi Performance Consulting: or 510-336-0654.

Manage this …. The “Expressiveness” aspect of leadership presence will be featured in the next issue.

Please pass this to others who would benefit from it.

If you want specific references for any of the material, please let me know.

I’m speaking at the Rhino Toastmaster’s Club on May 19 in San Francisco on “How to Succeed in Business…without Being a Man”. More info can be found at

I am featured on BNET speaking on “Have you Fired someone Yet?” It’s not Donald Trump style! See me on

About the Author: Kerrie Halmi is a coach and facilitator specializing in people management skills. Her passion is increasing women’s success in business. See

Past articles are on

Terms of Reprint: You have permission to publish this article in your newsletter, e-zine or on your website as long as you print the entire article, unchanged and include the copyright and “About the Author” information (Resource Box) and all links. Please e-mail to let the author know where and when the article will appear.

April 2007 :

Be Sociable, Share!