The following is my interview with Business Superstar, where I am featured as this week’s “Superstar of the Week!” Read on as I speak with Phil about all things leadership, The Inner Edge, and more. You can see the original interview here.
Joelle K. Jay, Ph.D., is an executive coach specializing in leadership development. In addition to working with presidents, vice presidents, and C-level executives in Fortune 500 companies, she also authored The Inner Edge: The 10 Practices of Personal Leadership. Dr. Jay spoke with us about the distinctive characteristics that define a leader.
Q: What inspired you to write The Inner Edge? And what were your goals in creating this book?
Joelle Jay: What inspired me to write The Inner Edge was my own experience. There was a time in my life that I found myself becoming successful in my career as defined by external measures, but I wasn’t happy. All I could see was years of dissatisfaction ahead of me.
So I sat myself down, determined to redefine my course in the direction of happiness. I spent a year on this practice, applying a lot of the coaching techniques I applied to others to myself. After a year I didn’t want to go back to feeling unsatisfied, I wanted to honor the steps toward change I had made, so I wrote out the steps, the 10 practices of personal leadership, and The Inner Edge was born.
Q: In your professional opinion, what are the basic characteristics of a great business leader?
Joelle Jay: In addition to some of the more traditional characteristics, like being a visionary, a strategist, and having great people skills, I would add that great business leaders are extremely thoughtful people who are cognizant of who they are reaching and why. They create business structures not only to foster a successful business, but also to make employees happier and more engaged. A great business leader is a master of personal leadership both individually and applied to the whole organization.
Q: Do you believe that business leadership skills can be taught in schools? Or is it a trait that is part of a person’s existence?
Joelle Jay: Certainly there are people who are gifted with natural leadership abilities, who are compelling and visionary and inherently charismatic – the Martin Luther King Jr.’s of the World. But just as people can learn to be compassionate, thoughtful, and hardworking, they can learn to be leaders and practice the skills of leadership.
Q: Do you believe it is possible to create a new business in a rough economy (like the one we have today)?
Joelle Jay: Yes! The evidence is all around us. There are rising, thriving businesses, some of which would even question whether we truly live in a rough economy today. The success of a business isn’t solely dependent upon the market, but the vision of the leader and the capability of the leader to be creative in finding a way to serve their clients, customers, the general public, and employees.
When times are tough, the business landscape might look different, having the mindset that the economy will either make or break your business is a failure from the start. A better mindset would be a commitment to succeeding no matter what the economic outlook.
Q: What advice would you give to those who are eager to be their own boss, but don’t know how to achieve that goal?
Joelle Jay: You can use the 10 practices of personal leadership to figure out how to become your own boss, just like I did! First, learn to see yourself as the leader of your own life, as a leader creating a life for yourself. That small shift in perspective is the first test. Then, get clarity and find your vision for the career in which you are your own boss.
Next, find focus and identify the priorities to need to push to the forefront to make it happen. Then take action, go out and tackle your prioritized action items instead of just dreaming about it. You may be doing this while you’re still a fulltime employee at your current company, so you can take it one practice at a time. There are other practices of personal leadership: maximize your time, see the possibilities.
The next practices include: tapping into your brilliance and personal strengths, learning to truly feel fulfillment, maximizing your time, building your team, continuing to learn and grow, seeing possibility, and finally being able to balance all of it at once. Those are the practices I outline in The Inner Edge, and those are the practices I teach top executives.