Kazu Of Ultmeche: 5 Ways Empathy Will Affect Your Leadership

An Interview With Cynthia Corsetti

Efficient Conflict Resolution — Empathetic leaders will have the ability to take into consideration multiple perspectives and as discussed above, can use their better decision making abilities to do what is best for the team.

Empathy, the ability to understand and share the feelings of another, is increasingly recognized as a pivotal leadership trait. In an ever-evolving business landscape, leaders who exhibit genuine empathy are better equipped to connect, inspire, and drive their teams towards success. But how exactly does empathy shape leadership dynamics? How can it be harnessed to foster stronger relationships, improved decision-making, and a more inclusive work environment? As part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Kazu.

Kazu is an engineering career coach and founder of Ultmeche — a Professional Career Resources website focused both on job searching mainly focused on industries such as Engineering (Mechanical, Civil, Electrical, Software Engineering, etc.), but covers other industries and sectors such as Tech, Business, Finance, Healthcare, Accounting, etc.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive into our discussion about empathy, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

Growing up, I always enjoyed math and science which steered me over to becoming an engineer in my career. After being able to land my dream job at a company that designs, develops, builds, and supports one of the world’s most advanced products, I wanted to help others do the same.

Job hunting was and is the hardest thing ever — until I figured out the right job-hunting frameworks.

In 2016, I had the hardest time finding a job out of college.

I applied to 100+ jobs and in 1 month, I would hear back from absolutely no one. I thought it was normal and part of the game — that applying to jobs online felt like a black hole.

These results are terrible and it was because of my resume.

My resume looked absolutely terrible.

I didn’t know how to write a resume.

No one taught me and I messed up in not having a mentor or even seeking feedback from colleagues.

How would I know any better what I was doing was wrong? I thought it was all part of the game.

After an eternity of trial and error, I figured out what the right job searching frameworks were which led me to land my dream job.

I aspire to teach all of those trying to land their dream jobs the right frameworks so that they too can land themselves opportunities they wouldn’t be able to.

It was through the creation of my career services business which developed the creative side of my career.

I had a business idea and a story, but I needed a platform to be able to communicate it.

Through the creation of short form and long form video content, I’ve been able to amass millions of views and resulting in thousands of monthly clicks per month on my business website.

None of this was easy and it took tons of trial and error, but I was able to break it down into frameworks and systems — keep reading to find out

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

One day recently, in the sauna at the gym I go to, someone I knew said to me “I saw you on TikTok”

Getting recognized in real life was one of the craziest things ever to happen to me regarding my business career. It was so surreal and almost like a “We made it” type of moment.

Prior to beginning my career in my business regarding career services and video creation, I was just working as an engineer. I never even remotely thought about social media or video creation back then, but now video creation is such a huge part of my business. It’s so integral in my day-to-day life such that I’m constantly thinking of ways to create new content or increase the quality of how I currently create content.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

My company truly focuses on giving customers a high-quality experience. I’ve been able to help hundreds of them land their dream job through clear cut frameworks that I’ve developed in my experience as an engineering career coach.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

1. Courage

Business is one of the most grueling things ever. It takes an insane amount of courage to be able to spend hundreds of hours on something, with no idea that it’s going to work or not. There are also many intimidating situations in business such as interfacing with clients or other business leaders in challenging phone calls, demos, meetings, negotiations, and closing deals.

2. Industriousness

Business requires long hours of constant trial and error to figure out what works. Tons of early mornings, late nights, and constant consumption of coffee to grind out work was needed.

3. Resilience

Can you fall down and get back up? Business will knock you down on your feet multiple times, but the most important thing is to be resilient to the failure that will inevitably come your way.

Leadership often entails making difficult decisions or hard choices between two apparently good paths. Can you share a story with us about a hard decision or choice you had to make as a leader? I’m curious to understand how these challenges have shaped your leadership.

I was interviewing two candidates for an engineering position, both extremely well qualified and did a very great job interviewing. The choice was between someone excelling academically vs. someone who seemed passionate and really into the nuts and bolts of things. They answered each question I had very excellently and at the end of the interview, I was stumped. On paper, the academically excelling one sounded better, but my gut feel told me to choose the nuts-and-bolts guy. I was 100% right in the choice — upon hiring him, he delivered well beyond my expectations and consistently showed drive and initiative. Often times, you can’t use logic and instead will need to rely on a “gut feeling”, even in business.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. Let’s begin with a basic definition so that all of us are on the same page. How do you define empathy in a leadership context, and why do you believe it’s a vital trait for leaders to possess in today’s work environment?

Empathy is the ability to understand where others come from. Understanding empathy aligns hand in hand with fostering a neurodiverse workplace. It is important to understand that we are all different. We all have different qualities, flaws, and upbringing that shape who we are. Through those experiences and qualities, we will see the world differently. To empathize means to be able to understand where the opposing perspective comes from. Empathy in a workplace will get much farther than if a leader were unempathetic. An unempathetic leader would lead to loss of productivity due to difficulty in cross collaboration and strong relationship building among peers.

Can you share a personal experience where showing empathy as a leader significantly impacted a situation or relationship in your organization?

I was extremely displeased with the quality of work that was delivered by one of my subordinates. After they explained to me what was going on in their personal lives, I thought it was an excuse just to slip on their deliverable. Turns out, I was wrong, and many others of my colleagues all looked at me as I was in the wrong. It was not a good feeling, but ever since then, I owned up to that mistake, and have expressed much more empathy and open communication among team members.

How do empathetic leaders strike a balance between understanding their team’s feelings and making tough decisions that might not be universally popular?

Ultimately, leaders need to understand that business is business. As a result, leaders will need to make tough choices and everyone will not be happy. It then comes down to how these choices are executed and communicated. Some will be happy, and some won’t, but that’s the name of the game.

How would you differentiate between empathy and sympathy in leadership? Why is it important for leaders to distinguish between the two?

Empathy involves understanding and sharing the feelings, thoughts, and experiences of others. It requires the ability to step into someone else’s shoes and see the world from their perspective. Empathetic leaders listen actively, validate others’ emotions, and seek to understand the underlying causes of those emotions. They strive to connect with their team members on a deeper level, which fosters trust, rapport, and collaboration.

Sympathy, on the other hand, involves feeling sorry for someone or feeling pity or compassion toward them. While sympathy can be genuine and well-intentioned, it often involves maintaining a degree of emotional distance and may not necessarily involve fully understanding or sharing another person’s experience. Sympathetic leaders may offer support or assistance to their team members, but their response may be more surface-level and focused on alleviating the immediate discomfort rather than addressing the underlying issues.

It’s important for leaders to distinguish between empathy and sympathy because their approaches can have different implications for relationships, communication, and problem-solving within the team.

What are some practical strategies or exercises that leaders can employ to cultivate and enhance their empathetic skills?

Cultivating and enhancing empathetic skills is an ongoing process that requires self-awareness, practice, and a genuine commitment to understanding and connecting with others.

Some strategies include — listening, perspective taking exercises, and seeking feedback from their peers.

How can empathy help leaders navigate the complexities of leading diverse teams and ensure inclusivity?

Empathy is a critical skill for leaders to navigate the complexities of leading diverse teams and ensure inclusivity in several ways such as understanding many different perspectives, building trust, facilitating communication and key discussion, while addressing any sort of bias or discrimination among teams.


Based on your experience and research, can you please share “5 Ways Empathy Will Affect Your Leadership”?

1 . Communication — Leaders that are empathetic will excel in communicating with team members as this will lead to clear communication, reduced misunderstandings, and ultimately build trust among team members

2 . Employee Engagement — Employees will be much more open and comfortable to engage and participate in discussion and team building as a result on a empathetic leader

3 . Improved Decision Making Filters — Empathetic leaders will further take into account what the downstream impacts of results will be upon team members, and as a result will be a catalyst to better decisions being made

4 . Strong Team Relationships — An empathetic leader will be able to create an inclusive environment in which colleagues and coworkers can strengthen relationship building.

5 . Efficient Conflict Resolution — Empathetic leaders will have the ability to take into consideration multiple perspectives and as discussed above, can use their better decision making abilities to do what is best for the team.

Are there potential pitfalls or challenges associated with being an empathetic leader? How can these be addressed?

Some challenges can be that being empathetic is emotionally draining and be looked at as demonstrating weakness, especially in a cut-throat environment like today. As it is important to understand that business is largely results driven, these results won’t mean anything if individuals are burned out or brings forth a toxic work place. Long term, it will not be sustainable if leaders do not have protocols set in place within themselves to demonstrate and work in an empathetic manner.

Off-topic, but I’m curious. As someone steering the ship, what thoughts or concerns often keep you awake at night? How do those thoughts influence your daily decision-making process?

Uncertainty about pretty much anything is what keeps me awake at night. Ultimately, I just have to realize that no one ever really truly knows what they’re doing and we’re all playing the lifelong game of figuring out things together.

Thank you for the time you spent sharing these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

About the Interviewer: Cynthia Corsetti is an esteemed executive coach with over two decades in corporate leadership and 11 years in executive coaching. Author of the upcoming book, “Dark Drivers,” she guides high-performing professionals and Fortune 500 firms to recognize and manage underlying influences affecting their leadership. Beyond individual coaching, Cynthia offers a 6-month executive transition program and partners with organizations to nurture the next wave of leadership excellence.