Session 4: Tony Dungy

One of the most admired and beloved figures in professional sports, Tony Dungy’s name is synonymous with character and integrity. A former professional football player, he coached the Indianapolis Colts for seven years, becoming the first African American coach to win the Super Bowl. Since his retirement, he has written two best-selling books, Quiet Strength andUncommon, and is an analyst for NBC’s Football Night in America. Involved in the work of many not-for-profit organizations, he also takes an active role in mentoring younger athletes. Craig Groeschel, pastor of, will talk to him about his new book, The Mentor Leader, and how to positively influence others through personal coaching.

Leadership through Mentoring

This session was done in interview style, with Craig Groeschel interviewing Tony Dungy about the practice of mentoring, and what is the best way to do this.

  • How did the philosophy of a mentoring coach come about?
    • You’re only job is to help your players play better. That is what leadership is all about, helping those who you are leading.
    • He changed the dynamic between player and coach, from fear, to nurturing relationships. If the players believed in him, then they would develop a relationship, and it would succeed.
    • Stubbornness is a virtue, if you’re right. You must stick to it.
  • Being a pastor is similar to being a coach, the people in the pews, like sitting in front of the tv, think they can call better plays. Something that is similar also is that you can work yourself into the ground.
    • We are going to win, but you can’t make football your life. If the coaches were energized and spending time with the family, then they will be better coaches for him.
  • If you were mentoring me personally what would you say?
    • Hours don’t equal productivity. Go home and spend time with your family.
  • People in ministry say, “I want to be mentored, but how do I find a mentor?”
    • We have to be available to mentor people.
    • When you are looking, just find people that you admire, in school, work, neighborhood, etc.
    • You can get mentored from a distance, it doesn’t have to be one-on-one.
  • Is there anyone in your life that has been a mentor from a distance?
    • Tom Landry. He was coaching Dallas, and I was playing for Pittsburgh.
    • He was always under control.
    • It doesn’t always have to be that icon. Another person that was significant in my life was someone in high school. He practiced with me when I was in Jr. High.
  • Sometimes I think that the word “mentor” is intimidating. What does it practically look like to be a mentor?
    • Learn about the person. What ways can I help you? The mentoree has to then receive that.
    • There has to be a trust developed.
    • What if I don’t have all the answers? Don’t worry about it, you’re gonna pick up things that will help you down the road regardless.
  • Does it have to be formal meeting times? If there is a person that I want to learn from what do I do?
    • There can be formal times, but some of the best ones are informal.
    • I used to talk to my barber. He used to talk to me about football. He would say, “Don’t be nervous, you’re gonna do great.”
  • Did you ever have someone say something or see something that was lifechanging?
    • In high school I thought my coach was wrong, so I quit the team. My principal called me, and asked “Why are you quitting?” “Why would you ever let anyone stop you from doing something that you enjoy?” I went back to the coach, and back to the team.
  • Some people may say, “I’m not Coach Dungy, how do I be a mentor?”
    • You don’t have to be an icon, or a famous person. The first person that impacted my life, still impacts my life today, because he was the first to encourage me.
  • As a leader when you answer questions or develop someone else, what does that do for you personally?
    • Seeing a young man come in as a new player, and then leave at 25 as a better player, and a better person, those are the things that are irreplaceable.
  • What if no one is coming to me asking to be mentored? How do I choose someone to mentor?
    • We have to be intentional. In your workplace, just ask someone.
    • It is also important to encourage the younger generation.
  • Do you see yourself going back into coaching?
    • I don’t see myself going back into coaching.
    • I feel a calling from the Lord to speak into the lives of youth.
  • I think you are coaching, just not specifically in football.
  • Out of all the people, coaches, parents, friends, who would you say was the most important in your life?
    • Well my dad, my mom, the people close to me have all led me closer to the Lord, but I would say that the best mentor is Jesus Christ.
  • Who is Christ to you? How are you different because of Christ?
    • I told my team on the night before the Super Bowl, “What would it profit a man to gain the whole world, and lose his soul?”
    • Christ came to die for our sins, to allow us to have a relationship with Him, and that is what Christ has done for me, and that is a relationship that no one can take from me.

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