Book 11: Leadership Presence


For book 11 in the #EmptyShelf Challenge, I chose Leadership Presence: Dramatic Techniques to Reach Out, Motivate, and Inspire.

Title: Leadership Presence
Authors: Belle Linda Halpern and Kathy Lubar
Publisher: Gotham Books (2003)

What the book is about

The authors, Belle Linda Halpern and Kathy Lubar, are former actors turned leadership trainers and coaches. They help leaders “connect authentically, communicate effectively, inspire action and build relationships to drive results.”1 The primary theme of the book is to help leaders be “present” in a manner to authentically connect with others and communicate at a deeper, more meaningful level.

They break this into four disciplines:

  • Being Present
  • Reaching Out
  • Expressiveness
  • Self-knowing

For each discipline, Halpern and Lubar present several actionable guidelines and rules as well as many helpful exercises and techniques designed to develop these skills in leaders.

Why I read this book

To be honest, when I picked up this book, I thought, “Well, this looks like another one of those touchy-feeling, psycho-babble books on leadership. It’s on my reading stack and it won’t disappear until I give it a try.” (I often read the first chapter or two of a book, then decide whether it’s worth investing more time.)

Within just a few pages of the first chapter, I was engaged and excited to read this book. I read a lot of books on leadership. Frankly, most of them are simply a rehashing of the same old ideas, but from a slightly new perspective, or organized into some slightly different model.

Leadership Presence is different. The authors have tapped into something I’ve never seen before and is very unique among leadership books. To understand the uniqueness of this book, read on…

Favorite idea

What I enjoyed most about this book is the fresh way of looking at authenticity and emotional intelligence in leadership. What Halpern and Lubar do is tap into fundamental skills of the art of acting. As you know, the best actors are able to connect with you on an emotional level and to portray their characters in a truly authentic way. If you’ve ever been to a live stage performance, and sat in the first few rows, and have had the pleasure of watching a true artist become their character, you know what I mean. You believed the character was really on stage. You had to remind yourself that you weren’t actually in that person’s home, sitting in the corner, observing how they dealt with the struggles and triumphs of their life.

The techniques that actors use to listen, interact, communicate, and emotionally connect with others can also be used by leaders. These skills, very learnable skills, can help you develop deep, meaningful connections with your team.

For several years, my two sons have been under the training and direction of a tremendous director and acting coach, Carla Barwineck. As I’ve seen their skills develop and how they have changed as people, I have observed how they have become better leaders. In this book, Halpern and Lubar present a model and system of skill development to help leaders, not become better actors, but be more authentic leaders.

Do I recommend this book?

Yes! Absolutely. This is a hidden gem in the leadership literature and I truly hope you will get a copy and share it with others.

(Click here to learn more about the #EmptyShelf Challenge.)

Dr. Scott Yorkovich is a leadership coach and consultant. He works with individuals, small and medium organizations, and ministries. Contact him at ScottYorkovich[at] with your questions.

1: Quoted from the author’s business Web site, Ariel Group

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