To open the afternoon of Leadership Summit, Tony Dungy was interviewed by Craig Groeschel about leadership and mentoring. Here’s my recap/notes from the interview.

Q: You’re leadership style is very different. You’re a mentor leader.
A: Style came from two people. My dad, who was a college professor, and then Pittsburge Steelers coach Chuck Noll. Chuck said, “You’re only job is to help your players play better.” Leadership is about helping those who you lead.
Q: Called to help people get better. Coaches thought of authority figure, using fear. You were different.
A: Tried to develop relationships so players understood I was there for them. It was counter to coaching style in NFL. It’s a Biblical principle and I was convinced it would work in NFL.

Q: Different from normal coaching.
A: I was asked by owners I interviewed with, “How would you keep them in line if you don’t use language and fear?” No immediate success when I first started coaching, so people detracted from coaching style. If players believed in me and I’d show them how they could win, convinced that we’d ultimately win.
Q: Did you ever doubt?
A: First year at Tampa and we lose first 5 games, win 1 game and then lose 3 more. “Are you sure?” I was reminded of a quote from Chuck Noll, “Stubbornness is a virtue if you’re right.”
Q: Being pastor can be similar to being a coach. People watching you think they know better than you. Asked, “What do you do rest of the week?” You’re only as good as last Sunday. It’s easy to work yourself into the ground, but you mentored team and coaches to live a life with balance.
A: Important for lot of reasons. Coach Noll was a family man. We are going to win, but you can’t make football your life. You have to have other interests. He did it and we won. As a Christian, football and winning were important. Family and values were more important, though. I didn’t want to burn my assistants into the ground. If they had time with family they’d be better assistants for me.
Q: If I coached for you and wanted to win approval and had 3 kids, what would you do?
A: I would show you what I do first of all. When I coached I made the facility open to kids. Assistant coaches didn’t believe me until they realized it was true when they saw my kids running around. Family must be able to come in. Also, there is a need to be efficient. Let’s not waste time.
Q: Working long hours doesn’t always bring success.
A: Don’t mistake hours for productivity.
Q: No regrets with your family.
A: I do not. Had game against Patriots when we were both undefeated. Did PSA taping and it led to an adoption. Patriots won Super Bowl but someone was adopted because of PSA.
Q: How do I find a mentor?
A: We need to be available to be mentored. Find people you admire and connect with them. Ask questions. Doesn’t always have to be one on one. Read a lot of books by great coaches and then followed it up with a five minute conversation later.
Q: Interesting how 30 second conversation from mentor can change your life. Who did you not meet who affected you?
A: Tom Landry. Watched him from afar and admired how he was under control and seemingly did the right things. He mentored me from afar. Another great mentor was someone who was four years older than me. In high school he showed me the ropes and spoke into my life, and as a 13 year old it had great impact on my life.
Q: Paul discipled Timothy. Everyone should have a Paul and Timothy. Mentoring can scare people away. What does it look like?
A: It is incumbent on the mentor. Who are you? What do you need? Initiate the mentoring. A relationship that needs trust. Don’t worry about not always having the answers, but they’ll pick up things that will help you.
Q: Can be a formal process, but it doesn’t have to be.
A: You can have formal times, but so much of it is the informal times. It’s more powerful. My barber was influential. I’d go get my hair cut before a big game. He’d talk about life, what’s important, ask me about the football game. He’d tell me not to be nervous. It was informal, but it meant a lot as a 15 year old.
Q: Ever have a life changing moment that impacted you?
A: Senior year I had dispute with coach and was ready to quit. My Junior High Prinicipal called me up and asked why I was quitting. He said, “Why would you let anyone stop you from doing something you enjoy?”
Q: How different your life, and others would be, if he hadn’t challenged you to go back to football?
A: Don’t have to be a person of influence. I hired Mike Tomlin, Tomlin hired Scott Frost, Frost recruits my son and I hear Tomlin’s voice in Frost’s voice. You don’t know how it can impact people. My Junior High Prinicpal impacted my son Eric Dungy. (Through me, then Mike Tomlin, then Scott Frost and then my son.)
Q: (missed question)
A: Biggest thrill you get is seeing people grow. Seeing a young man come in at 21 and seeing him leave years later and being not only a better player but also a better person. Those things are irreplaceable.
Q: No one is coming to me, but I want to mentor someone. What type of person to look for?
A: God puts people in our path. We see people so we should be afraid to tell people we want to help them. Be intentional with kids in the area.
Q: Will you go back into coaching?
A: Don’t see it. I did it for 28 years. Feel calling to reach out to younger kids than football players.
Q: You are coaching people in the ways of life, though. Out of all the people, coaches, parents, friends, who was the one that was most important?
A: All the good mentors I had led me to Jesus Christ. Jesus has been the best mentor and leader I’ve been involved with.
Q: Held up a Super Bowl trophy and gave glory to God. Highest of highs and lowest of lows. Personally, who is Christ to you?
A: Night before our Super Bowl game I told team if we win we are heroes, if we lose were bums. What profits a man to gain the world and lose his soul? Told the team that. Christ came so we could have relationship with him and bring us back to him.

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