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Tony Dungy and Leadership

I generally could care less about celebrities.  However, if there is someone famous I would like to meet, it would be Tony Dungy.  I admire him not just because he took my beloved Colts to a Super Bowl championship but it was how he did it.  He does not swear and he does not raise his voice.  He leads with a "Quiet Strength", to quote the name of his book.   Which if you have not read the book is a great read even if you are not a Colts fan. 

He was speaking in Indianapolis and a friend of mine happened to have an extra ticket when his wife backed out at the last minute.  While the speech was short, maybe 15-20 minutes, I found it insightful.  Tony shared his three principles for leadership and I wanted to pass those along to you.

1.  Your goal as a leader is to help your group succeed.  This seems like common sense but how many times have we seen a leader do what is in their best interest, not the best interest of the group?  How many times have we seen Senior Leaders continue to provide pay raises and perks to themselves while ignoring those underneath them?  Tony Dungy said his dad, who was a teacher, told him his job was to ensure every kid in his class received an A.  Therefore, his dad could not use a shotgun approach to teaching but had to find the trigger for each and every student that would get them to achieve their highest potential.  Great leaders are able to change their approach to best fit the needs of the employee, not expect all employees to fit the needs of the leader. 

2.  Let your team know that their individual welfare is the most important thing.  Great leaders truly care about those they are leading.  They do not see them as stepping stones to move higher in the organization but truly and deeply care about the individuals they are leading.  In 10 years of measuring employee loyalty, one of the common drivers of loyalty is if the company shows its employees care and concern.  Employees want to be treated as though they matter.  

3.  Leaders must be shepherds.  This relates to the second principle in that leaders must set aside their personal preferences for the betterment of the group.  Shepherds used to sit outside in the hot sun, pouring rain, middle of the night, facing lions, bears, and who knows what else all to ensure the sheep were taken care of.  However, if a sheep continually moved away from the group, the shepherd would break the sheep’s leg and carry the sheep until it healed.  That would teach it to stay with the group.  I am not advocating breaking the leg of an employee who strays from the group (but don’t lie to me, I know you are thinking of a couple of colleagues you would like to break their leg).  But it means the leader knows when they must step up and correct a behavior that is not what is best for the whole or that is dragging the group down.  The leader must be willing to have those difficult conversations.   

About the Author

Chris Woolard

Chris Woolard

Chris is responsible for the sale, design, implementation, account management, and consulting for his clients’ employee and customer assessment programs. He focuses on employee loyalty consulting and is considered Walker’s employee loyalty expert. He has worked with many companies on customer due diligence solutions.

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