Monday, January 23, 2012

Leadership Lessons from Tony Dungy

I recently read a story about Tony Dungy, former coach for the Indianapolis Colts, in the Guideposts magazine. Mentors were a very important part of Tony's leadership development. I'll share some of the lessons that Tony learned about leadership development from his mentors.

 Allen Truman, an athlete and Tony's coach:
  • You don't have to run with the crowd. 
  • You're going to do big things.
  • Treat everyone fairly.
  • Stay focused on the mission.
Leroy Rockquemore, Tony's African-American assistant principal:

  • Show them you care by learning more about them.
  • Face challenges; don't run from them.

Coach Chuck Noll, coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers:
  • Don't try to imitate me. Be who you are and concentrate on your strengths.

Tony Dungy, himself:
  • A good leader remembers who the true leader is.
  • Being a mentor leader means bringing out the best in people.
  • Mentors challenge use to be our best. They shape our faith and our lives. 
  • Good mentors create good leaders.

  • Do you have a mentor? If you don't consider, get one. Most agencies have formal mentoring programs. 
  • Are you a mentor? Share your advice with others here.

1 comment:

Bill Miller said...

Thank you for sharing the links to Dungy's considerations on Mentorship.
Something that took me a very long time to learn, coming up as an athlete, through the military and in the wildland fire cultures, is the importance of being genuine and vulnerable as a leader. It's amazing how counter-intuitive it can seem to do so in environments and in cultures where it may seem a sign of weakness to share these truths.
However, with some maturing and some reflection, I have a real hard time finding a life-long mentor or leader that I wanted to emulate, that I still hold as a role model, that didn't share honest truths about their own limitations... even if I didn't fully realize it then.
How they shared these things mattered... and it made a difference. I may have struggled to be inspired by someone that couldn't share honestly but with strength, character and command presence, the very simple fact that we can't know it all. However, as I look back now, I recall how refreshing it's been to be allowed to not have all the answers... when someone you respect and admire makes that ok. When I see the truth in a humble, yet confident leader, I am inspired, and I see real strength.
When you realize that these amazing people, that make incredible impacts in our lives, in the lives and events around us, have flaws, limitations, vulnerabilities and struggles... and yet they are still able to have such an impact, it's empowering.
Often, in our own minds, the minds that know we have things we wish people didn't know about us, or flaws that we hope no one discovers, it's somehow freeing to realize that even the people we look up to are struggling with being human and not having all the answers.
Of course, it seems like a no-brainer in a conversation about limitations and vulnerabilities. No one would dare say they are perfect or know it all... but it's amazing how hard it can be to live that way when the pressure to be seen as competent and capable by those you lead exerts itself in real life, everyday events... It can be incredibly hard to say "I don't know... Let me find out for you..."
In my military and my wildland fire experiences, these types of leaders have instilled in me a sense of trust and confidence, that their egos weren't going to make decisions that my team or myself would pay the price for. When they coupled that honesty, with a willingness to include the team in solving the problem or coming up with answers, it made for a climate where the team knew they could share in the process as appropriate, and it's always been an incredible experience to be a part of that kind of team.
It certainly can be a challenge to share these kinds of things with those you lead, but when you think about it, it's a sign of strength and confidence we all wish we could demonstrate for those we lead. It can also be the ultimate connection to the values and principles of Duty, Respect and Integrity. Thanks again for sharing... I needed to revisit these elements in how I lead and how I follow.