When confronted by challenges throughout his career, Superbowl-winning former NFL coach Tony Dungy frequently looked to Scripture for guidance.
One of those times was when he first arrived in Indianapolis as head coach of the Colts in 2002, Dungy said, addressing a crowd of 400 in the DeSantis Family Chapel at Palm Beach Atlantic University on Thursday during the World Leaders Conference.
|Superbowl-winning former NFL coach Tony Dungy speaks in the DeSantis Family Chapel at Palm Beach Atlantic University on Thursday during the World Leaders Conference.|
Dungy, whose most recent book is The Mentor Leader, said he told his players about the story in Mark 10 of the wealthy man who asked Jesus what it takes to inherit eternal life. When Jesus told the man to give up his earthly possessions and follow Him, the man left dejected.
Dungy said the story illustrated to his players that in order to become a winning team, sacrifices would become necessary. “It’s not easy to make that kind of commitment,” Dungy said.
He also quoted his mentor and former coach Chuck Noll, who often said that if it were easy, “we’d have 80,000 people doing it and 40,000 people watching,” he said.
Dungy closed out the second and final day of the conference, which included a highly anticipated address by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Wednesday. Blair offered practical advice to conference goers in the form of seven leadership lessons he learned during his time in public office.
Other speakers at the conference were Cokie Roberts, James Blanchard, Ken Blanchard, Henry Cloud, Mark Floyd, Laurie Beth Jones, Craig Groeschel, Bill Hybels, Patrick Lencioni, Erwin McManus, Tom Mullins and Tim Sanders.
Mullins, a former PBA trustee who founded Christ Fellowship with his wife, Donna, in 1984 and wrote a book titled The Leadership Game, spoke prior to Dungy and also led a question-and-answer session with the coach immediately following Dungy’s presentation.
Mullins, himself a former high school football coach, spoke about a frequently overlooked aspect of leadership, the principle of celebration.
“As leaders we create wins for our people and our teams, and then we celebrate those wins” with those teams, Mullins said.
|Craig Groeschel of LifeChurch.tv interviews former British Prime Minister Tony Blair during the World Leaders Conferece at Palm Beach Atlantic University.|
Dungy explored a similar people-first theme during his message, which covered eight principles of team-building and leadership.
One of those principles is that sometimes leaders have to be strong enough to go against the grain, Dungy said, quoting Matthew 7:13, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.”
Another principle, he said, is that to be a good leader, it must be done the right way. He said he has seen many NFL teams that did not adhere to that, including those involved in the so-called bounty program and the scandal known as “spygate.”
“It’s just not worth it,” Dungy said. “The easy way is not the best way.”
Dungy said he saw his primary job as a coach as being there to help each player do his best, and he developed an inverted organizational structure that put the fans and the players at the top and the coaches at the bottom.
“The leader isn’t the most important person,” he said, adding that “often the great leaders become unnoticed.”
In addition to Noll, Dungy cited his father as having a great influence on him. He said the six-word slogan that he would later place in his team’s locker room came from his father: “Expectations. Execution. No excuses. No explanation.”
The World Leaders Conference was presented by the World Leaders Group and included book signings by several of the authors.
PBA trustee and former news anchor Chandra Bill led a question-and-answer session on Thursday morning with Roberts, a political commentator for ABC news.
Also, a number of PBA students served as volunteers during the event, and several University music ensembles performed as part of the program.