3 Ways to Sharpen Your Leadership Edge When the Pressure is On

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Do you remember the tv ads for the knives that could cut through a tin can and a leather shoe, and still be sharp enough to slice a tomato?

Pretty impressive stuff!

The point of course, was that this knife’s edge was so sharp it could cut through just about anything.

The same is true for your leadership edge. If you keep it sharp.

When your leadership edge is sharp you make better decisions, you build stronger teams, you cast more compelling visions and you get more done.

But if you’re not careful, your leadership edge can become dull, especially when you’re under a lot of stress, when you’re battling to meet a deadline and when you’re leading through a crisis.

But effective leaders know that during these seasons there are ways to keep your edge sharp. These are three of the most important edge-sharpening strategies for leaders:

1. Maintaining physical health

When the pressure is on there can be a tremendous temptation to abandon exercise, to cut corners on sleep and to sacrifice healthy food for fast food.

Resist these temptations at all cost.

When the pressure is on you need to be at your physical best.

2. Nurturing spiritual vitality

“I’ll pray later.”

“I’ll catch up on bible reading later.”

“I’ll worship later.”

The times when you’re under pressure are the very times you need to lean into God, not withdraw further from him.

3. Deepening relational roots

Effective leaders are always focused on adding value to others. But when the pressure is on there can be a huge temptation to make it all about one’s self.

Don’t let this happen.

When the heat is on, that’s the time to go the extra relational mile. That’s the time to discipline yourself to continue pouring yourself into others in your relational world.

It’s counter-intuitive, but the payoff is huge.

The point is that many leaders under estimate the critical importance of their physical, spiritual and relational worlds. Then, when the pressure is on, these vital edge-sharpening dynamics can be quickly abandoned.

Don’t let that happen.

When the heat is on, ramp up these vital sharpening tools.

Because when your leadership edge is sharp you can cut through just about anything.

How do you keep your leadership edge sharp?




the author

Scott Cochrane

Vice President- International, Global Leadership Network. Love Jesus, Nora, Adam & Robin, Amy, Dave, Willow & Olive and John, Fiona & Will. Lifelong learner.


  1. I think I can add two more.

    Staying a student – We must always be ready to learn. To keep our mental mind sharp.

    Investing in others – This one could go with staying a student but I think it’s more complimentary than the same. By investing in others, we’ve got to keep learning. Our students will ask us something we don’t know. This forces us to look into the subject and discover new tactics.

  2. I like both of these, because both require intentionality and focus. This is consistent with what I was saying, which is that when the pressure is on, these core leadership priorities can be easily set aside. Great reminder to keep these leadership priorities front and centre

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