Notes from Tony Dungy at the Chick-fil-A Leadercast

One of my favorite elements of this year’s Chick-fil-A Leadercast was Tony Dungy.  Mr. Dungy was interviewed by Mark Sanborn, and it was an awesome interview.  I only wish it could have been longer.

Here are a few significant thoughts Coach Dungy shared in his interview:

The challenge is take players who have potential and help them become what they are capable of.

My job and your job as a leader is to help the people we lead to reach their potential and be successful.  It’s a challenge and it’s not easy.  In fact, it’s quite difficult.  But that’s our job as leaders.

A team needs a goal to strive for.

 People want a big goal to shoot for and to strive for.  A big goal that a team is working towards motivates the team and causes them to work together. 

I honestly believe that people are most happy when they are working towards a goal.  I remember I was working for an organization where we had a leader who didn’t really cast vision for our organization.  I remember often thinking:

“What’s the point of all this?”
“Where are we going?”
“What are we doing this for?”
“What are we shooting for?” 
“What do we want to become?”

It was a frustrating time because we didn’t have a goal to strive for which meant we were bored!

Focus on incremental progress even if it’s not showing.

This is an important principle for leaders and other workers to realize in our instant gratification culture we live in right now. 

Progress takes time. 

If you’re a golfer you know that when you want to make a swing change, sometimes you have to get worse before you can get better.  When a golfer wants to make a slight change to improve his swing, he often starts to make the change and the results often get worse because he is doing something he hasn’t done before.  But over time, the golfer will start to see progress and his game will start to improve as a result of the work he was doing.

Leaders who are trying to make progress need to realize that just because they can’t see any progress, doesn’t mean it’s not happening.

A good coach transmits his belief in his players

One of the greatest things a leader can give to his followers is his belief in them.  I’ve been able to serve more people and help more people because there have been people in my life who have believed in me more than I believed in myself.  One who comes to mind is my mentor, coach and friend Steve Elliott.   His belief in me and my ability as a leader has encouraged me to help more people and serve more people than I probably ever would have done on my own.

I didn’t catch all of it, but Coach Dungy shared this poem at the conference which I thought was very meaningful:

I believe in you, we can make it happen, this is my
team, and we’re going to get it done.

Character is caught and taught.

This firms up the belief that most of us realize that people watch what you do more than they watch what you say.  But they will do both, and you can mold your team and your players’ character by modeling the character you want them to have and by affirming that character with words.

Family is #1 because that’s what is going to be with you for the rest of your life.

I need to focus on this one a little bit more.  Because leaders are so visionary, they often can get so focused on doing great things and making a difference in the world that they forget their family who is at home wanting their attention and love too.  This is a tough line to draw because leaders are required to spend so much time at work, and that work can begin to consume us and become the main priority in our lives.

God has put you where you are for a reason and you impact more people than you think because people benefit.

While at my toastmasters meeting I heard a woman say, “Its not where you are, it’s where you are meant to be.”  It was pretty profound, especially for me since I often have feelings that I should be doing more and helping more people.  But God always has us where we are for a specific reason, and our job is to do the best to serve and help those people.

By Christopher L. Scott

Christopher L. Scott serves as senior pastor at Lakeview Missionary Church in Moses Lake, Washington. Through his writing ministry more than 250,000 copies of his articles, devotions, and tracts are distributed each month through Christian publishers. Learn more at