Thoughts on Leadership: The Model of a Mentor Leader

“Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve…You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”– Martin Luther King Jr.

As important as our words are, our actions are even more critical. You will be known by what you model for others - through your words, your actions, your faith, and your heart.

Tony Dungy concentrates on this specific concept in his book, The Mentor Leader, Chapter 6: The Model of a Mentor Leader. This chapter focuses on how mentor leaders will be known by their legacy. The legacy mentors leave is a combination of the many things that guide each daily step.

Dungy's key points on a mentor leader's model:

  • You will be known by what you model for others.
  • Especially in tough times, people will want to know whether your actions measure up with your words and faith.
  • Leading through your words and actions tells the world who you are.
  • Coaches should be held to the same standard as classroom teachers – if not a higher one.
  • When you’re a teacher, you talk when you teach. You don’t talk during the test.
  • If you’re called to do something, then sometimes, that is bigger than what you want to do.
  • When you’re in a crisis, it’s too late to try to get people to follow you.
  • Faith is the foundation and strength of the mentor leader.

Dungy's book also includes these action steps:

  1. Consider your legacy. You can tell the world who you are, but the person they hear and see in action will be the one they remember. What kind of legacy are you building?
  2. Evaluate your consistency. Do your actions mirror your words? There is no easier way to create a credibility gap than if they don’t match.
  3. Examine your words. What comes out of your mouth reveals the condition of your heart. What do your words reveal about your thoughts, motives, and attitudes?
  4. Evaluate your faith. Does your faith create a foundation that others can believe in? Are you building on sand or on solid rock?

When a mentor leader combines all his traits and his mindset, he can change lives for the better.

“That’s how we should be. Looking for lives to change and hearts to impact, that we might model the message of the mentor leader, leaving a legacy of changed lives and a better world, day by day, one life at a time,” says Tony Dungy.

How can you apply this to your life of leadership today?