In 2006, Tony Dungy led the Indianapolis Colts to their first Superbowl Championship in over thirty years. His leadership qualities combined with the skill of the players are given credit for that success. Dungy has published a book, The Mentor Leader, about his thoughts on building and honing the leadership skills that people have but do not always maximize. In his Today Show interview, he discusses some of the ideas from his book.

Dungy states that the single most important idea that drove his coaching strategy was, “Your only job is to help your players be better.” He emphasizes that this theory can be applied on and off the field. In any organization, a mentor leader can help team members reach their highest potential through key leadership skills.


If a leader demonstrates and vocalizes that they have confidence in a person’s abilities, that person is more likely to be successful. Too often, team members and even leaders can work in opposition to each other. When team members are more concerned with their own elevation, sometimes at the expense of others, the team – and leader – will eventually fail. Encouragement can be a key element to a group’s success and create a more positive environment for success.

Build relationships

Going hand in hand with encouragement is building relationships. A leader who encourages team members and makes it clear that they are on their side creates a positive relationship that is built based on integrity and trust. Team members working together toward objectives will be more effective through good relationships.

Recover from Mistakes

As a coach, Dungy has experienced the failure and public criticism that goes with this type of position. Being able to bounce back from mistakes and failures is a mark of a great leader. As leaders inevitably have disappointments, the ability to adjust their plan and move forward can make the difference between failing permanently or enjoying eventual success.


When Dungy talks about commitment, he stresses that he does not refer simply to commitment to the goal or vision. As a team, people must be committed to each other and desire to see each person do their best. Whatever other leadership skills or styles a person may have, a commitment to their cause is vitally important to reaching their objectives.