Tron Jordheim: Successful leaders show empathy, think ahead, act boldly, admit mistakes

We know there are “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” and “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.” Thank you, Steven Covey and Paul Simon for helping us to clarify these things. Business leaders are often pushed and pulled in many directions and are trying to motivate and manage many people and projects at the same time.

Keeping seven things in mind might be tough. I apologize to you, Mr. Covey, but we may have to cut the list down. How about four? We can probably keep four things in mind at any time.


Be empathetic

Showing empathy for those you lead will gain you respect and loyalty. Having empathy for others will give you a broad and deep understanding of affairs and conditions that are important to your mission.

Putting yourself in your customers’ shoes will help you develop products and services that bring real value and create good margins. Understanding the position of your investors and stakeholders will help you alleviate their concerns and garner more support from them.


Think ahead

How will your actions and your company’s behavior shape the near-term future and the long-term future? Are today’s activities helping you build for more opportunity and better service? Thinking ahead will help clarify strategy and tactics, helping to rally support among your team members.

Every action has ripple effects that move well into the future. If you can anticipate those ripples and influence them, you can create solid and sustainable strategies.


Act boldly

When it is time to act, act. Take plenty of time for empathy and thinking ahead and planning and strategizing. But when it is time to act, act swiftly and deliberately. Act boldly. You may not have many opportunities to move an organization in a significant way, so make that opportunity count when it is presented to you. Leaders are called leaders because they take people and projects to places that the meek and unprepared would not dare venture. Go there with purpose and go there boldly.


Admit mistakes

Good leaders make mistakes. Admit when you make a mistake and move on from it. If you were using your empathy, thinking ahead and acting boldly, you did all you could to be prepared. In that case, you made a good mistake. Own it. Learn from it. Forget it and move on to the next set of decisions. Make sure the people who are affected by the mistake know you made it, understand how you made the mistake and see how you plan to move on. Involve them in the next plan and prepare for action.


Successful leaders know there are only a few things that set them apart from those who pretend to lead or those who are managers but not leaders. If you aspire to be a successful leader, you can do it by exercising your empathy, thinking ahead and acting boldly.

When you err, admit your mistake and move on. You will have many who will follow you, because they know your mistakes will be worth experiencing for the successes that follow.


Tron Jordheim,

StorageMart, one of the world’s largest privately held self-storage companies with locations across the U.S. and Canada.

Tron has helped lead the company to double-digit revenue growth for the last four years by embracing digital marketing and call center support. With 40-plus years of experience in sales, marketing and training, he continues to be sought after as a public speaker, sales trainer and consultant.