On the old Ed Sullivan Show, there was an act where a guy came out with sticks, put plates on top and started spinning them. First, there was one plate, then there were two, then three. It grew and grew until he had a whole line of plates that were spinning as he moved back and forth trying to keep all those plates spinning on top of the stick. Some of them would wobble real slow, almost fall off but he would get back to them in time to keep them spinning.
If his goal was to keep as many plates spinning at whatever speed, then he was achieving his goal. But if his goal was to have plates spin quickly, then he wasn’t achieving his goal. Many times, the same activity can be interpreted in multiple ways. I would rather see you spin a few plates very quickly than try and spin too many plates very slowly. If you have one or two or even three plates and they’re spinning quickly, to me that represents efficiency. That represents that we’re getting something accomplished. That means to me that we’re achieving at a high level rather than just barely making it around. One of the keys to being a great leader, one of the keys to being accountable, is to be focused on what it is that you’re trying to achieve.
We need to focus on one or two things and do them incredibly well. And if there’s other activities that need to be done, we need to look for others on the team that we can delegate to get those activities accomplished because ultimately, if we try to take on all the activities ourselves, if we try to spin all those plates, we might keep them up in the air but I bet you, we won’t do a great job.
Great leaders understand that they need to be focused. They also understand that they need to help others on their team stay focused. They need to teach everyone to focus on a few items and get them done incredibly well because if everyone is achieving at a high level, then the organization is achieving at a high level. Great organizations are made up of great leaders and great leaders know how to stay focused on what is important and get it done and get it done right.