Build relationships with team members which helps promote trust. Learn as much you can about each team member; their strengths, gaps, communication preferences, and show an interest in them as a whole person.

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 Barbara Morris-Blake.

Barbara Morris-Blake is the CEO of Elevate Organizations, a consultancy specializing in business culture innovation, leadership development, and talent optimization. She is also a Certified Professional Coach and a member of the International Coach Federation with a deep understanding of psychometric tools and is a Certified Lumina Practitioner and a Predictive Index Partner.

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?

My life has been filled with wonderful memorable moments, and I have them so often that it would be impossible to choose. One that does stand out was that I met my husband while at a health retreat, fell in love, and moved to Texas from Canada in 2015.

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

I started out as a cardiology technologist so took a hard right turn when I discovered that I could sell. As a young Mom, I started selling cosmetics at home parties. I did well enough that I was brought into the head office to manage two stores, and the in-home sales department.

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?

I’m very familiar with this study, and a previous study that stated that 87% of business discord was the result of lack of communication, and not the competencies of the parties. I love to share the secrets of communication with my clients. I use the psychometric tool, Lumina Spark ( to help them understanding their own communication styles, how to identify other’s communication preferences, and how to adapt accordingly in order to connect.

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

One of the tips I share with my clients is what I refer to as the “feedback loop”, which is a process of communication in which the sender of the message receives feedback from the receiver which allows for clarification, and adjustment to the message if needed. It’s about not assuming and helps ensure that the message is understood.

I discourage “jargon” or “acronyms” since they can lead to misunderstandings. I encourage stories of anecdotes where possible.

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 . Use a psychometric tool to help team members identify personality and communication preferences, and how to adapt to the communication likes and dislikes of the team.

2 . Develop “rules of engagement” which includes how you expect the team to show up on video, etc. (being on time, appropriately dressed, engaged, prepared, etc.).

3 . Discuss openly the concept of psychological safety — what it means to each team member and what behaviors you need to demonstrate to foster psychological safety in the team.

4 . Build relationships with team members which helps promote trust. Learn as much you can about each team member; their strengths, gaps, communication preferences, and show an interest in them as a whole person.

5 . Create a culture of honest feedback and have regular feedback sessions where team members feel comfortable sharing their ideas. This helps improve communication and promotes a culture of continuous improvement.

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

The most important skill a leader can learn to be a better communicator is to learn to be an active listening. This involves fully focusing on, understanding and responding to the speaker. When people feel heard and understood, they trust more, and communicate more openly, leading to fewer misunderstandings.

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.

Peace in the world? 🙂 I believe that if we were all trained in understanding personality preferences, and how to adapt to connect, the workplace would be a much happier place.

How can our readers stay connected with you?

[email protected]

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