on August 14, 2010
If you've been put off by leaders who leave a wake of wreckage behind as they bulldoze towards objectives, then Dungy's writing will be fresh air to you. His conviction is that the focus of a great leader should be not on outcomes, but on the good of those being led. His purpose is clear, people first, and then objectives.
Dungy makes a clear distinction between a position of leadership and a person of leadership. Even without a formal leadership title, people can still make a difference as they influence those around them. Additionally, Dungy doesn't believe leadership is something a person is born with, but rather it's a trait to be developed. A person does this by committing to those around them.
Unlike many books on leadership, particularly business books, this biographical account comes across sincerely, warmly, and compellingly. Dungy's focus on people is exemplified in his writing style - it's encouraging rather than demeaning.
As one might expect, many of the anecdotes and the immediate context in which leadership traits are conveyed is couched in football. Dungy is, after all, a football coach. So, be prepared to hear about situations, and circumstances, and even conflict that has surrounded his many years of coaching.
In short, if you're not afraid of the pig skin and if you could use some encouragement - this just might be the book you're looking for.
on December 29, 2010
In his introduction, Dungy outlines the "essential traits of a mentor" (p. xvii-xviii):
* Mentoring "can be taught and learned; but in order to be absorbed, it must be practiced"
* Mentoring "focuses on developing the strengths of individuals"
* Mentoring "works best" when there is "genuine concern" shown
* Mentoring is about "shaping, nurturing, empowering, and growing"
* Mentoring is "about relationships, integrity, and perpetual learning"
* Mentoring is "about changing lives" (p. xvii-xviii)
Although all 9 chapters of Dungy's book relates to the "mentor leader," there were 3 chapters that seemed to prepare the heart of the mentor: Chapter 3, "A Look Within," Chapter 4, "Characteristics That Matter," and Chapter 6, "Living the Message" (p. 45, 67, 123). In chapter 3 Dungy explains, "In order to become an effective mentor, in whatever setting, it is important to take a look inside yourself" (p. 45). He suggests that potential mentors take a "personal inventory" to assess what makes them "think, react, and respond the way they do" and what makes them "do the things they do" (p. 46). An honest self assessment will reveal personal strengths and weaknesses, unresolved issues from the past and meaningful priorities (p. 64-65).
"Character" is described as "the person [others] view as the most trustworthy, who cares the most and who is willing to always do the right thing," and according to Dungy, it is the "glue that bonds solid and meaningful relationships" (p. 71). In chapter 4, Dungy presents the characteristics he believes are "marks" of a good mentor. These "marks" include competence, integrity, authenticity, courageous, faithfulness, accountable, available/approachable, loyalty, and protectiveness (p. 72-91). Throughout this chapter (and the whole book), Dungy uses Biblical references to support his points. For example, Dungy states, "a genuine sense of self-worth is best obtained through a relationship with God" (p. 74). In another part of the chapter, Dungy discusses the parable found in the book of John, chapter 10, to illustrate the "mark" of protectiveness--"When a wolf comes and threatens the flock, the hired hand runs away. . . . the shepherd on the other hand, rises to the defense of his sheep" (p. 94).
Dungy starts chapter 6 with a Scripture verse from the book of Matthew: "Jesus said, `It's not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth. . . . The words you speak come from the heart--that's what defiles you'" (Matt. 15:11, 18). He uses this Bible passage to show that mentoring starts in the heart of the mentor--basically, what is inside determines what will come out (p. 123). Dungy claims that people will notice various things about other individuals: their faith, their words and actions, and their legacy (p. 124-135). When discussing faith, Dungy says, "Faith is the foundation and strength of the mentor . . . . the guiding principle behind everything we do . . . . Faith will go a long way toward giving others a reason to follow you" (p. 134-135). Dungy believes that the "many things that guide the daily steps of mentors" (relationships, impact, involvement, character, faith, and actions) shape one's legacy; "legacy" results in "changed lives" (p. 136, 138). In other words, a mentor is successful if he or she contributes to the positive changes in other people's lives. Dungy's use of the Bible shows that God's Word is important to him. It also shows that even if a mentor has all the necessary traits necessary, it is God who ultimately changes people-- "with God all things are possible" (Matt. 19:26).
Review by M. Teresa Trascritti
on September 30, 2010
I was Looking for a book that was about LEADERSHIP from a SPIRITUAL persective. Tony Dungy nails that query with this book, Mentor Leader. Previously I avoided his books because I am not a big fan of football and assumed it was all related to touchdowns and tackling. I could not have been more wrong. This book is about mentoring and leading. Good title them huh?
He takes his experiences and that of others and tells how he was mentored what he does to mentor and all in the line of being a leader. Far from an in the ivory tower manager Dungy shows us how to impact others as the main idea in leadership.
Growing others to be leader even more Spiritual Mentors. He uses the Bible to explain his motivation to help others and shows his weakness and how he overcame them to become the Mentor leader he is today.
This book was for someone looking to help others a goldmine. I found this book to be informative, entertaining and Spirit Led. Not only should every manager who wants to step beyond "manageing" to leadership read it, every pastor, teacher and mother and father should grab a copy.
The message Tony wants us to get is that a leader cares little about personal gain and cares everything about doing what they do to help another find Gods direction in their lives.
on June 26, 2012
In my second review of a Tony Dungy book, The Mentor Leader, takes a focused approach to the valuable attributes of a mentor leader. Looking at eight different sides of this unique approach to leadership, Tony makes the case for a very humble style of leadership, while citing stories from various heroes of the football arena. Most of the stories are found here, so the application takes some stretching for women, mothers or anyone not involved or interested in football. Yet I did find it an interesting read, with valuable points to share. The very servant-esque element of his approach is probably what I related to most, and the stories were a bonus. For example, "If you do it right, as a mentor leader you may make it all but impossible for other people to give you credit." Amazing. He even argues that character (off the field especially) matters, in contributing to your personal, leadership and team's success. Refreshing.
Each chapter is concluded with several thought-provoking questions, or action points to make the learning process functional.
I would recommend this book to a very-sports-oriented team player, and aspiring leader to bring Tony's perspective home.
This review was completed with a library copy, for the Tyndale Summer Reading Program, which you can join also!
on October 1, 2010
America is in the midst of a leadership crisis. Politically, socially, spiritually and in the family, leadership is in high demand and short supply. Concepts of what effective leadership is, have come and gone in our society, but I think the concepts in this book are here to stay. In the Mentor Leader we learn the importance of not only creating teams, but leading those teams in a way that helps them be effective in their roles. The goal is not to make the leader "look good," the goal is to help each team member be their best. That means the leader must help each team member develop their personal selves as well as develop the group purposes or goals. Definately worth the price and more!