Thoughts on Leadership: Mentor Leadership

“If you don’t have time to teach, you don’t have time to lead.” – Tony Dungy For the past week and a half, I have been listening to the book The Mentor Leader by Tony Dungy, Super Bowl-winning coach and New York Times bestselling author. This book is that good and powerful. It’s also my second time reading it.

In this book, Dungy shares the secrets of mentor leadership, and why it’s a vital part of developing a consistently winning team. He reveals what propelled him to the top of his profession and shows how you can apply the same approach to virtually any area of your life. He will teach you how to take your own unique gifts and skills and use them to help others grow.

To ensure that people understand the important and effectiveness of mentor leadership, Dungy follows a consistent principle throughout his book by ending each chapter with important “Action Steps.” Each step will help you develop the unique leadership philosophy that had a huge impact on Tony, which led him to develop the successful leadership style admired by players and coaches.

The following are the Action Steps found at the end of Chapter 1- The Mandate of a Mentor Leader – Focus on Significance:

Action Steps

1. Evaluate your integrity: Are your actions consistent with your words?

2. Evaluate your impact: Are you making lives better?

3. Evaluate your perspective: Do you see people as central to the mission of your organization? Or do you see them simply as the means - the fuel – to get your organization from here to there?

4. Evaluate your goals: Are you building relationships, or are you building a tower to climb to the top?

5. Mentor leaders see the opportunity to interact with people- and to build into their lives along the way -as part of the journey itself. How are you looking for ways to directly engage with and influence other people?

6. How does your leadership style need to change so that people will flourish and grow around you?

7. You can lead from a position of authority, but the most effective leaders lead as they build relationships of influence. What can you do to move from an authority-based model to an influence based model?

8. Identify one person whom you can begin to mentor. Don’t look too far or too hard. The opportunity is right in front of you- at work, in your family, or with a friend. More than likely, the person is someone with whom you already have a relationship.

9. Visit The Mentoring Project’s Web site ( and consider how you can get involved.

10. From your perspective, what is the difference between “success” and “good success?”

Tony Dungy learned firsthand that the way to bring the best out in an individual or a team is to teach- by example and through one-on-one, step-by-step mentoring. Bottom line, as Tony mentions: “Your only job is to help your team be better.”