President & CEO, HNI
Perhaps you started your business to gain freedom, wealth or just do what you love to do. Perhaps you worked your way up the ladder to be a leader in an organization with responsibility and meaning.
Have you ever thought, once I get this project done I’ll be able to get back on track? Or once the economy comes back I can start investing in the company? Or once we hire some new talent I can focus on being strategic and get out of the day-to-day?
I’ve found myself and many other leaders stuck in this rut. And, until I read a new book called Make the Noise Go Away: The Power of an Effective Second in Command by Larry Linne, I wasn’t exactly sure how to break out of it. The book defines NOISE as the unwanted thoughts that go through your head day and night keeping from your work (and freedom). This noise comes from your need to know. And when you don’t know…you seek the answers. And when the answers aren’t there or aren’t right, you try to “fix” them.
This cartoon by Hugh MacLeod is a useful reminder that sometimes being entrepreneurial can be depicted as being delusional.
Don’t worry, you’re not delusional! But you do get up each day determined to make a difference and work against the odds and noise that, at times, seem totally insurmountable. To quench your “need to know,” one of the principles Linne talks about in his book is upward communication.
Upward Communication is a fairly common term, but Make the Noise Go Away tackles this concept in a new way. The problem stems from "delegation." First in commands are trained to delegate. This is a push or downward model and it will end up creating more noise for both the first and second in command. Delegating can't be "given" to a second in command. In Larry's book he shows the power of an upward communication system that helps the second in command "take" things (noise) away from the first in command and has a process for proactive upward communication. First and second in commands have found great freedom in implementing this, and other strategies from the book, and they are making their noise go away and working on what they love to do.