014 Empathy in Leadership with guest Mo Dezyanian


Empathy, you can think of it a little bit like karma points, or trust points. Every time you get to know someone a little bit better, you build a little bit of trust with them, a little bit of camaraderie with them. – Mo Dezyanian


Hi everyone, welcome to the show! Today’s guest is Mo Dezyanian, President of EmpathyInc.ca, a media consulting group.

Mo is a seasoned digital strategist who has spent the past 8 years designing and executing successful digital programs for national and international brands. In 2015 he established Empathy Inc. to help brands navigate the media space in a digital world. With his team of consultants, he is bringing blue chip strategies to national and international companies.

In this episode, we talk about

  • Empathy in leadership,
  • How to connect and build trust with your team,
  • How to bring in more empathy in the workplace,
  • Moving your industry forward,
  • And a lot more.

Click that play button to listen, and don’t forget to rate us on iTunes!

Empathy in Leadership

One of the very first definitions of empathy in leadership for me is when you’re in a leadership position, very little of what you do in your day-to-day is actually about yourself. Almost all of everything that you do in a day-to-day basis is about your team and the people you are trying to convince to do something for the organization or for you.

Within that mindset, empathy is the key to unlocking all of that. When you understand where people are coming from, what it is that they want from their job, then you get to unlock their talent in an exponential way.

Taking the time to walk in that person’s shoes and see things from their perspective, whether it’s with your immediate reports or whether you’re leading a team through dotted lines or however that looks like within your context – that for me is empathy. That’s the crux to figuring all of this out.

Know what drives your team

The first thing you have to do when you’re tasked to lead others is to get to know your team at a personal level.

I always have this paradigm that it’s never just business; it’s always personal. So get to know your team personally: what’s their life like outside of the four walls of the office, what drives them, what they like, their hobbies. Those things are all important. Nine times out of ten, these are the things that drive people to show up to work to begin with.

Take this one small step

Breathe. I know it sounds simple, but sometimes we’re doing the work and we put our heads down and somebody gives us a different opinion and we don’t breathe and take a second to understand why they are giving us that perspective.

I had a manager and I liked him and we got along well and we’re always doing good work together. Then out of nowhere, he started to become slightly more unresponsive or a little bit more grumpy every day. It was getting harder to get at him and tap through and understand what’s going on. He would show up to the meeting, get the job done, then he will leave.

Me being the junior that I was, my interpretation of that was, “Well, I have to try harder. I have to work for it.”

I started staying in later, doing more work, taking on more projects, just trying really hard to impress my manager, and he was just shutting down. He was not responding to that at all, and that was frustrating to me. I felt like I was failing every day because I was not getting through to this guy.

One day at 7 in the morning, I showed up early to the office, and he walks in. I said, “Hi Mark, how’s it going?” and he just goes, “You know what man? My marriage is going through a rough patch. I don’t know what to tell you. I’m just not there anymore these days.” And he just walks out.

That was the turning point for me. This whole time, it wasn’t even about me. I’m just one of his direct reports; at the time he had five or six others, and I wasn’t even a senior who had other direct reports. I was a junior. I was probably the least of his problems.

I was there busting my butt, and he wasn’t noticing me because…why would he?

Sometimes when you just take a deep breath and take a look around you, why the other person is doing what they’re doing, it can really enlighten you.


Links and Resources

Connect with Mo: LinkedIn | Twitter


The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science by Norman Doidge

UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World by Michele Borba, Ed. D.

Impact vs Cognitive Energy Matrix