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When I named my company, Lead Above Noise, six years ago, I was shooting for pithy and on-brand in three words or fewer.

Those were my three. And I stand by them now more than ever.

The world in which we’re living – or sometimes just existing – is so overloaded with noise. And the struggle to just get by is real.

Every conversation with a client is effectively an ask of the essential “What is your noise?” And then our engagement – in whatever form – is a means of answering – and overcoming it.

Noise, in my mind, is anything that stands between us and our potential impact. Sometimes it stops or breaks us. Sometimes it slows or inhibits. And sometimes it just demands more energy than it deserves.

Naming your noise – truly seeing it for what it is – is the first step in leading above it.

In working with individuals, teams, and organizations, here are some of the most frequent noise-making culprits I see:


  • Self-doubt. The belief we aren’t enough. When we freaking are.
  • The need for perfection… which inhibits progress.
  • The absence of boundaries. They are not limits. They are what hold us in place.


  • Unclear priorities. We all need to steer together.
  • Command-and-control leadership. Which disempowers and bottlenecks. Not cute. Ever.
  • Team disconnection. Because collaboration, support, and idea-building fuel momentum.


  • Overwrought process. Because we’ve always done it this way. (And how dumb is that?)
  • Measurement of activity over outcome.
  • Rewarding and recognizing safe and old ways – versus the risks taken by innovators
  • Failure to do Inclusion well. Not by scorecards and trainings. But with action, behavior, and meaning.

So what do we do from there? Well, we build plans to overcome these noisy bits.

Whether you’re an individual, team leader, or head of an organization, here are the critical questions I’d urge you to answer:

  1. What are the outcomes (not the activities) that most urgently require my/our energy and focus?
  2. What actions and behaviors of mine/ours most directly support the achievement of those outcomes?
  3. What tends to detract, distract, or inhibit me/us?
  4. What habits or practices can serve as the platform I can step on to rise above those distractions?
  5. What served me/us in the past that should be celebrated…but also put to rest?
  6. What change will I/we make TOMORROW to take our first step above the noise?

Give these a try.