View from the Summit

How Do You Lead When You Don't Have The Answers

Posted by Aaron Walker and the VFTT Team on Jul 10, 2020 10:00:00 AM


you can’t let humility prevent you from leading

Well, I hope you and your family had a good Fourth of July. Robin and I enjoyed a wonderful getaway to South Carolina in the middle of June for our 40th wedding anniversary. I don’t think I’ve ever made a better decision at the right time, than to go and disappear for a while during all this craziness … how about you?


You can’t disappear forever, though - not when you lead a high-powered mastermind group like Iron Sharpens Iron. I’ve learned the lesson a few times - just because you don’t have all the answers, doesn’t mean you get to stop leading. Come to think of it, the older I get, the more I realize that leadership isn’t about knowing all the answers; it’s about knowing the right questions. I’ve spent far more time asking questions than giving answers this year.


For July, we’re taking a different turn and reading about the leadership stories of Robert Iger, who stepped down as CEO of the Walt Disney Company at the beginning of 2020. He’s got a book called “The Ride of a Lifetime,” and I highly recommend it, especially because it’s the story of a man who started all the way at the bottom of the entertainment business, and rose all the way to the top.


The ABC’s of Leadership


Early in the book, Iger wrote about a season he went through becoming the head of ABC Entertainment. Next to leading Disney, it might not sound like a big deal, but you have to remember that this is the late 1980s and early 1990s, before the internet really took off and the major broadcast networks were still huge. I loved reading his approach, because it made me think of the men in our online mastermind groups. You’d have a hard time, in everyday life, finding a group of men so comfortable saying the words “I don’t know.”


Here’s what Iger wrote:


I told myself: You have a job. They’re expecting you to turn this around. Your inexperience can’t be an excuse for failure. So what do you do? The first rule is not to fake anything. You have to be humble, and you can’t pretend to be someone you’re not or know something you don’t. 


You’re also in a position of leadership, though, so you can’t let humility prevent you from leading … you have to ask the questions you need to ask, admit without apology what you don’t understand, and do the work to learn what you need to learn as quickly as you can … true authority and true leadership come from knowing who you are and not pretending to be anything else.


Wow. Can you imagine how different our culture and our country would look right now if this was how a majority of people thought? Iger went on, in this same passage, to give enormous credit to his closest supporting executive team and advisors. Now that drew my attention, because as you know, I beat the drum year-round about the importance of mastermind groups online and how they act as your personal board of directors.


But What About You?


I really want to drive this point home - it’s important we make a habit of asking ourselves how we handle situations like this. Because of the time we live in, it’s not enough to do that once every five years; I think we need to have this conversation on a regular basis.


The riots and chaos of the past month forced me to confront some issues that simply weren’t on my radar. Thankfully, by God’s grace, I’ve been through enough storms to know - I need to ask my trusted advisors before I react. Each situation’s different, but it’s knowing who you trust, who is your coach or mentor, that helps you avoid pitfalls.


See, there was a time I’d have run straight at the issue and given my opinion, or put my hand up and said, “No thanks, I don’t want to talk about it.” But I heard from a lot of different voices, and every angle on this issue. It’s also true, when you’re in leadership, that you need to be prepared to let people’s hearts speak.


I don’t need to tell you - what their hearts have to say isn’t always what you want to hear! But if you’re in leadership? You waived your privilege to be protected from hearing things you’d rather avoid, and making decisions you don’t want to make. They sometimes call this “paying the cost to be the boss.”


Ears of Influence

If you have the ability to truly listen - to show people you sincerely, attentively care about what they say - you’ll go a long way

We talk a lot about voices of influence - people whose opinions and thoughts carry weight. Entrepreneurs, executives and senior leadership wield tremendous power in what they say (or don’t say). But I want to tell you about a different kind of influence, one even more powerful than a well-spoken word or speech. 


If you have the ability to truly listen - to show people you sincerely, attentively care about what they say - you’ll go a long way.


You may not solve every problem people have, or silence every argument they bring. But you can develop this thing my friend Dr. Andy Garrett calls “the internal locus of control.”


(I didn’t know we had a locust inside of us … back when I was growing up, my mom would fuss at me for catching them and putting them in a jar). 


All right, I’m just having fun … the “internal locus of control” is the ability to sit patiently and listen while someone tells you something painful, disagreeable or wrong. But you keep yourself from retaliating or correcting them. You listen, you might offer to share some things that come to mind … you might ask questions, but you never directly confront or attack their point of view.


It’s funny … I ought to know this from years of working with mastermind groups. How many times did I walk into the Eagles mastermind with Dave Ramsey and Dan Miller, thinking I’d just come up with the most brilliant idea in the world? But as soon as I started laying it out to them, I suddenly knew it. I’d hear this voice inside that said, “Big A, you haven’t done your homework, and you’re about to let the whole world know.”


How many times did that happen? The answer is: if I’m not careful, I still do it today! That’s why it’s so important to find yourself an online mastermind or business coach who can help keep your feet on the ground when you have your head in the clouds. 


If you haven’t noticed, God also gave us our wives for this … any healthy marriage is where a woman’s perspective and intuition is a prime asset to her husband. You just have to be humble enough to listen, while also remembering you’re responsible to lead.

If it sounds complicated, that’s because ... it’s complicated. Maybe it’s time you had more than one set of eyes on your life and business. If so, head over to and apply to join one of our mastermind groups today.

Topics: Motivation, Accountability, Character, Business Coaching, Masterminds, Balance, Career, Relationships, Success, Significance, Priorities, Commitment, Persistent, Consistent, Move Forward, Preparation, Integrity, Discipline, Clarity, Development, Self Development, Decisions, Crossroads, Wisdom, Encourage, Be An Encouragement


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