I recently finished reading Tony Dungy’s latest book, The Mentor Leader. I like reading books on leadership because I believe that they contain lessons that each one of us can apply in our own lives. Everyone is a leader in one form or another. The Mentor Leader contains many of the lessons I’ve read about and learned in other books on leadership, but it is unique because the focus of the book is centered entirely on a specific form of leadership; mentor leadership. Tony Dungy is a very public figure who has not shied away from acknowledging and emphasizing the importance faith plays in his life. It is no surprise then that faith plays a very important role in his book on mentor leadership.
Tony Dungy frequently quotes scripture passages from the Bible to relate today’s leadership practices to those same leadership qualities of Jesus. Tony Dungy, and I, believe that the greatest leader ever to live was Jesus Christ. Therefore, it only makes sense when talking about leadership to study and follow the greatest leader of all, Jesus Christ. So how did Jesus lead?
Jesus was the perfect mentor leader. Before I go any further, let us define mentor leadership according to Tony Dungy. Mentor leaders put people first, strive for significance in life, and keep an eternal perspective. The effective mentor leader builds real and meaningful relationships with the goal of bringing out qualities in others that help them become their best. The mentor leader is not concerned about whether or not they receive credit for positive results. The mentor leader leads by service and appreciates the journey as much as the destination. Mentor leaders produce mentor leaders. When we think about how Jesus led his Apostles, it is clear that he was a mentor leader. His whole life was service; service to God and others. His life was of the utmost importance but he was always humble and let others recognize his significance for themselves. Jesus was always more concerned about the things that are eternal than the temporal. He built very close and strong relationships with his mother Mary and his Apostles. These Apostles later became the leaders of the Church. The Church is a constant reminder of Christ’s leadership and infinite wisdom. We are all called to imitate Him. If we want to become a great leader, we need only look at Jesus.
Tony Dungy presents many great principals and ideas on leadership that I will carry with me as I strive to become a better leader. In fact, his list of Seven ‘E’s of enhancing potential was on my mind when I was developing a mission statement for our Respect Life Committee at my Church. Some of the principals stated in The Mentor Leader are difficult to live by because they are counter to what comes natural to us. Tony Dungy’s success as a football coach is well known and everyone who knows him talks about his character. I do not question his character or his sincerity, but he has a slightly different perspective on a couple of things than me primarily because we have completely different life experiences. There is nothing wrong with this, but it is simply a fact that should be acknowledged. He makes some comparisons when trying to emphasize his points that I probably wouldn’t have used, and I think that he sometimes downplays the importance of achieving your ultimate goals and the effects of not achieving your goals on others. His definition of success may be slightly different than how I would define success, but we agree for the most part that you must not let someone else define success for you. There are several great principals and lessons that I have learned and will work to put to practice in my own life, and because of this I found this book to be a very worthwhile read. We may not always agree with everything that is written in a book, but so long as there is something that we can learn and put into practice we can become a better person for reading. I read for enjoyment, but I also read to learn and to ultimately become a better person. I think there are several things that you will take away from this book, and therefore I highly recommend Tony Dungy’s book, The Mentor Leader.