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What Sharp Knives Taught Me About Strategic Focus As a Leader

By Joey Havens

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An organization’s strategic focus is similar to the sharpness of a knife. A knife is sharp because energy has been focused at the blade. So, the more focused the energy is at the blade, the sharper the knife, the higher the cutting power, and the stronger the knife. If energy is not focused at the blade, we end up with a dull knife, with diminished cutting power – a weaker knife. A dull knife may be good for spreading butter, but if our goal is to cut something tough, then we are going to experience a lot of frustration.

When we try to do too much, it is as if we are trying to sharpen too many knives in our limited time. We juggle between the sharpening of all the different knives, and in the end, not one knife is sharp enough to be useful. We can be much more effective if we spend our time and focused energy sharpening just a few key knives. The more we focus our energy on a few important things, the sharper our knives become.  

When our strategic focus is sharp, knowledge grows and it will be shared. Knowledge leaders cut away to open new trails. Collaboration happens across the team. If we are sharp, we will win in a tough economy. Yes, we will still have barriers and challenges, and there’s other things we must also do: client service must always be improved, increasing our speed and flexibility are often areas that must be addressed, but leading in one direction with razor sharpness is the goal of sharp leaders.