Trust is Main Element in Leadership, Potbelly CEO Tells Bauer Students

Published on October 26, 2015

Aylwin Lewis (’76, MBA ’90) Encourages Bauer Students to Become Life-Changing Leaders


Aylwin Lewis (’76, MBA ’90) speaks in the Rockwell Pavilion of the MD Anderson Library during the Oct. 15 Inspiring Minds series event. See more photos at

“Without trust, leadership is not possible.”

That was the main concept that Potbelly Sandwich Works Chairman, CEO and President Aylwin Lewis (’76, MBA ’90) shared with Bauer students, alumni and the Houston community during the Oct. 15 Inspiring Minds speaker series.

Lewis, who spent the entire day at Bauer College, had breakfast with local high school students, talking about the importance of honesty and hard work. In the afternoon, he met with Bauer student leaders for a fireside chat, all before wrapping his day with his open talk on “Lessons in Leadership.”

Lewis emphasized to the audience the qualities of a good leader and how he views the relationship between a leader and employees.

“To me, leadership is a two-way relationship between the leader and those being led,” he said. “Trust is the foundation of the relationship.”

Lewis stressed the importance of delegation. No leader can do everything themselves, he said, so they should build a support team to surround them.

“You can get excellent results by being a super leader, but the day you want to go on vacation, the day you want to go back to school, the day you get married and have kids, and you’re not doing everything, then it all falls apart,” he added

He also discussed the amount of impact leaders have from the top down. He compared footprints in the sand to impression and footprints in cement to impact. Impact is something that leaders can have, he said, that may drastically influence workers forever, while impressions are fleeting.

“Leaders have impact,” Lewis added. “Can I find a person that I can coach, share my experience, and give them recognition that will change their lives? That’s what impact is.”

By Stephanie Phillips