Set a clear communication goal: Before starting any conversation, establish a clear goal for the communication. This can be anything from developing a shared plan to increasing income and production, or discussing a raise. This goal-setting will help everyone involved in the conversation to stay focused on the main topic.

We are all competing in an attention economy. From pings and dings to blinks and rings, companies and content constantly compete for our limited time and attention. How do great leaders turn down the noise and tune in to the messages that matter most? What does it take to be heard above the noise? And how do we create communication that cultivates community and connectedness in a distributed, distracted world? To address these questions, we started an interview series called “Can You Hear Me Now?: Top Five Strategies Leaders Use to Diminish Distractions & Win in the Attention Economy.” As a part of this interview series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Alex Visotsky.

Alex Visotsky is a co-founder of Business Booster. The accelerator which since 2009 designed to help companies achieve effectiveness and systematization. With over 7200 trainings delivered, Alex Visotsky has helped numerous companies from 57 countries all over the world to implement the Business Operating System into their organizational structures, which lets them run and scale business without their owners’ participation. He is the author of multiple bestselling books, including “The Business Owner Defined”, “Small Business. Big Game” and others that have globally sold more than 130,000 copies.

Thank you for making time to visit with us. Before we dig in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. What is one of your most memorable moments, and what made it memorable?

I flew to visit my mother for a week and instructed my deputy, “You’ll be in charge while I’m away. Manage the company properly.”

Upon my return, I was taken aback to find that the room where my company was located was empty: no employees, no computers, no customers — they were all gone. I was in shock. In the few days that I was absent, my partners and deputy had steered the company in such a way that nothing remained. The business I had dedicated my time and energy to had vanished. I came to realize that delegation is the key to growth and success, but if done incorrectly, it can result in complete devastation.

What is the most unexpected twist in your career story, and what did you discover from your detour?

I graduated from a military school in Ukraine. My friends graduated a year later and we decided to open a business. But everything ended badly.

We started with sales of Apple Computer (and we were not an official dealer). We supplied peripherals and devices for computers, repaired them. I found a supplier in America, DoctorMac. And then we sold computers to official dealers in Ukraine.

I failed to manage the business. I had an argument with partners and left the company. I had to open a new company alone without much money. At the same time, I began to improve in personnel management, discovered management tools. I wanted to share this experience with entrepreneurs. My new company became a leader for the production of awards in Ukraine. But I sold the company to my co-owner and decided to become a consultant.

According to a recent Harvard Business School study, the most essential communication skill for leaders is the ability to adapt their communication style. How do you adapt your communication style?

To be honest, I’m not the most sociable person in the world. There are people for whom the main way of understanding the world is through communication and networking. I’m not one of them, I comprehend the world through my own goals. I set goals and plans, then carefully search for sources of information around me. I prefer books and professional courses. However, I’m also a leader whose duty is to communicate with subordinates and achieve results from them. That’s why I’ve paid a lot of attention to developing my communication skills, learning about the communication formula and how it works. Now, I’m sharing this knowledge with the residents of our business accelerator.

Clarity is critical as well. What lessons have you learned about how to communicate with clarity in our distributed world of work?

My company operates remotely, so the primary communication happens via messengers. One way we use these tools is for informing employees. We create a channel, add the entire team, and publish good news and important announcements there. This boosts motivation and works really well.

Then, there are project groups. For example, when we’re developing a webinar or a new product. We make a group chat for everyone involved, where we can exchange messages, leave comments, and so on. But we need to agree that the chat is essentially a gathering spot, a brainstorming mode. If it’s about official tasks, instructions, and reports — you can’t handle these issues in the chat. In messengers, it’s easy to miss important information. You can’t put anything mandatory in there.

Lastly, there are simple personal messages. Currently, I communicate with my partner via chat due to our 12-hour time difference. I also interact with my personal assistant and other employees on minor issues. However, messengers are utterly unsuitable for giving orders and monitoring their execution. Therefore, to make tasks clear, you need to assign them verbally during a personal conversation (Zoom call).

We often discover what works by experiencing what doesn’t. Tell us about a time when your communication didn’t lead to the desired results and what you learned from the experience.

When I first started holding all-hands meetings, I faced the issue of initially having to almost forcibly herd employees into the meeting. None of them understood why this was necessary, they believed it was just a waste of time. At the same time, rank-and-file employees had almost no idea not only about the company’s goals, but also about what different departments were doing, what problems existed in their activities, and what victories and achievements were. Until we started regularly holding all-hands meetings, employees hardly understood where they were working and what the company represented. What kind of team spirit and teamwork could there be?

I probably made all the possible mistakes — I postponed meetings and then tried to gather employees. During the meetings, I allowed discussions to arise, and the meetings turned into “Q&A sessions”, as a result, the team’s morale decreased, and the meeting itself took not half an hour, but an hour. At the first meetings, my managers put employees to sleep with incomprehensible terms. Some speakers managed to create an atmosphere of total hopelessness simply by the tempo of their story, which then had to be dispersed. Managers whose statistics were falling and plans were not being met, instead of reporting on the execution of the plan, showered us with justifications, proving why everything was so bad. So, I highly recommend you adhere to this sequence and avoid the above mistakes.

What advice would you offer to other leaders who are struggling to have their messages heard and actioned?

To maintain a high level of motivation and achieve understanding among employees, a leader must constantly promote goals and, of course, be 100% committed to these goals. You cannot instill a sense of duty if the team leader doesn’t feel it towards the team’s activity. Since in business we deal with different people, it’s important to understand that everyone accepts the group’s goals at different speeds, and if you just keep promoting them, some will accept them quickly, others slowly. Perhaps some will never accept them. But the overall morale of the team depends on how much the group as a whole has embraced the main goal.

Leading a distributed team requires a different communication cadence and style from leading a team in person. What are five strategies any leader can deploy to improve communication and clarity when leading a distributed workforce? Please share a story or example for each of you can.

  1. Set a clear communication goal: Before starting any conversation, establish a clear goal for the communication. This can be anything from developing a shared plan to increasing income and production, or discussing a raise. This goal-setting will help everyone involved in the conversation to stay focused on the main topic.
  2. Manage the conversation: Diverse ideas may arise during a conversation which could distract from the main goal. As a leader, you need to control the communication process and guide it back to its main focus whenever it deviates.
  3. Promptly address deviations: If a conversation deviates from the main goal, or starts to dwell on minor or irrelevant issues, you should guide it back. Simply remind the participants about the communication goal and ask them if their points are contributing to this goal.
  4. Encourage agreement with the goal: Once the goal is announced, it will guide and shape the conversation. Your team will most likely adhere to this goal as they are highly intelligent individuals who understand its importance. Thus, the conversation and the subsequent work will be more efficient.
  5. Use the goal to resolve disagreements: The set goal can also be used as a tool to resolve disagreements that may arise during the conversation. Simply returning to the agreed-upon goal can help in resolving the disagreement and ensuring the conversation stays productive.

What are the three most effective strategies to diminish distractions when there is so much competing for attention?

  1. Remove Mobile Devices: I suggest that smartphones are a major distraction. Hence, to keep focus, it is recommended to remove mobile devices from the environment where important discussions or tasks are taking place.
  2. Change of Environment: If possible, holding the meeting or discussion away from the regular workspace of the employee can help minimize distractions. The normal workspace might have many elements that constantly demand attention and thus cause distractions.
  3. Create a Controlled Environment: I suggest holding meetings or discussions in a controlled environment like the manager’s office, where potential distractions can be minimized. For instance, the door can be closed to prevent interruptions, ensuring a focused and productive conversation.

What is one skill you would advise every leader to invest in to become a better communicator?

Intention and attention need to be present from the listener’s side too. The intention to hear, understand, and sort things out, and attention should be focused on the person who is providing the information. If an employee’s intention is to escape as quickly as possible, not to listen, then it’s impossible to get the idea across to them. I think every leader has had this experience. It’s impossible to reach a person who lacks the intention to understand. Therefore, create intention: for example, emphasize that the resolution of this issue depends on the employee’s future.

Communication begins when intention and attention are engaged on both sides.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I am passionate about providing opportunities for founders and entrepreneurs around the world to succeed and implement their great ideas.

How can our readers stay connected with you?

People can connect with me via Instagram, or my website,

Thank you for these great insights! We wish you continued success.