How to Develop Your Inner Edge



Leading On the Edge

Dr. Joelle K. Jay is an expert in personal leadership.  She has coached executives in numerous companies, written several books and numerous articles, and is a principle with the Leadership Research Institute, a global leadership development firm.

Reading Dr. Jay’s new book, The Inner Edge: The 10 Practices of Personal Leadership, I felt like I had hired a personal leadership coach.  She shares practices and principles that are enduring.  I had the opportunity to ask her a few questions to introduce her thinking to you.



What does it mean to lead on the edge?

“Leading on the edge” is about challenging ourselves to take the leadership position in our own lives – pushing ourselves not to sit back and hope for things to happen but getting out in front and making them happen with our own intent and effort.



What are some of the benefits of mastering personal leadership?

I believe that everyone is a leader – if not the leader of a team or a company, at the very least the leader of his or her own life.  Strong companies have learned that better leadership equals better results – higher profits, bigger market share and a global advantage.  Personal leadership helps us get the results we want for ourselves – a more fulfilling career, a more rewarding experience, a happier life.

TheInnerEdge_CoverYour book outlines ten practices of personal leadership.  Let’s discuss a few of them. The first is “get clarity.”  How do you help leaders understand who they are and where they want to go?

I recently heard a speaker say, “Clarity is everything. Confusion is the enemy.”  In our fractured and distracted world, leaders need to learn to cut through the noise to hear their own voice.  They do this by asking themselves powerful questions – chief among them, “What do I want?”  When leaders can get clear about what they want, they can outline the steps to get there.


Tap Into Your Brilliance

I love “Tap into your brilliance” because I am often amazed at people’s strengths.  How does a leader encourage an environment where everyone is operating in the strong zone?



When leaders learn to leverage their strengths, they positively burst into action. Suddenly their efforts are infused with energy as they discover they can finally do things their way – the way that comes naturally to them and the way they do them best.  That has a contagious quality, so strengths-based leaders are naturally encouraged by their own successes to help the people around them – their managers, direct reports, their teams – to organize their activities around the strengths in the group.  It’s a more satisfying experience for everyone – but more than that, it’s also far more effective.

“See possibility” is another practice.  One technique you call is “Let it be easy.”  Would you elaborate on this practice for us?

10 Practices of Personal Leadership

  1. Get clarity.
  2. Find focus.
  3. Take action.
  4. Tap into your brilliance.
  5. Feel fulfillment.
  6. Maximize your time.
  7. Build your team.
  8. Keep learning.
  9. See possibility.
  10. All. All at once.

Especially for highly-driven achievers, goal-attainment is all about making it happen. That can be exhausting. Sometimes a better answer can be found by sitting back and observing, watching for patterns, being open to opportunities. The answers may simply present themselves.

To give one example, a client of mine who was toiling endlessly to try to get herself promoted worked herself into a frenzy of activity with no result. She decided to stop pressing so hard for a while. When she did, she was able to see a unique and exciting opportunity (that she had been ignoring) as a possibility. Maybe this was actually an opportunity she’d enjoy. She opened her mind to the idea, and soon she found herself being swept into a new adventure in her career that not only got her promoted but led to a renewed sense of enthusiasm. It all happened when she stopped trying so hard and took advantage of the opportunity before her. She let it happen. She let it be easy.




Time to Reenergize

Leaders need time to reflect and reenergize.  Would you share just one technique that you have seen work for busy, overworked professionals?

The easiest – and also, sometimes, the hardest – shortcut to peace is to power down. We power down when we literally turn off the power of our devices to distract us. (Yes, that smart phone has an “off” button.) We also power down when we unplug ourselves by closing our eyes for a moment and sitting in silence.  Take a few minutes to close the door and rest for a moment.  Give yourself the gift of a few minutes of solitude. Gaze out the window or walk into the yard.  Even amidst the constant din of daily life, we can find a sense of peace by shutting off all the input and reconnecting with ourselves.

For more information about The Inner Edge: The 10 Practices of Personal Leadership, visit

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