Tony Dungy once said, “The secret to success is good leadership, and good leadership is all about making the lives of your team members or workers better.” Upon review of his career and life outside of football, it’s easy to see how great he is as a biblical leader and champion.
Tony Dungy is widely considered one of the best leaders in sports and in football, specifically. And while his leadership characteristics have never really been questioned, his ability to win the big one was. So much so, it became a moniker of sorts.
He was a great coach. A great leader. Just not quite good enough.
Dungy took the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from perennial losers, the laughing stock of the National Football League year in and out, to perennial playoff contenders. His team was dynamic, his defense ferocious. With playmakers all over the field, the Bucs were on the verge of greatness but continually fell short of that championship prize.
Though he was one of the most respected head coaches in the league, Dungy was fired from the Bucs on January 14, 2002. The team’s ownership cited an offense that was too conservative and the failure to win it all for his dismissal. Eight days later, Dungy was hired by the Indianapolis Colts.
Tampa Bay won the Super Bowl without Dungy in 2003.
In each of his first two seasons with the Colts, his teams went 12-4 but still fell short in the playoffs. As the narrative around Dungy and his shortcomings began to set in, his 2005 Colts team went 14-2 in the regular season and was widely considered the Super Bowl favorite.
Once again, they lost in the first round of the playoffs and this time to the eventual champion, Pittsburgh Steelers. If that wasn’t enough, one of Dungy’s five sons committed suicide in December. Dungy was criticized publicly time and time again. His family was dealing with tragedy. He couldn’t win the big one. He couldn’t lead his team to the pinnacle of the sport and as good as he was, he wasn’t good enough. Through it all, Dungy’s faith never wavered.
A quote from Dungy explains his mindset and how he stood strong in the face of such criticism. Dungy said, “People look at me and see a calm, cool guy on the sidelines and I want them to know that my Christian faith affects my coaching and everything I do.”
In 2006, his Colts went 12-4, then swept through the playoffs and beat the Chicago Bears in the Super Bowl. After years of “yeah, but” success, Dungy finally won it all as a coach. He’ll go down in history as the first black head coach to win a Super Bowl, but more than that, he’ll forever be known as a great leader of people. Dungy used his platform as a biblical leader and champion to be an example and pour his faith into others.
Dungy stated, “You should never be defined by what you do or by the things you have; you’ve got to define yourself by who you are and who you impact and how you impact people. And that’s the thing I try to get across to my players.”
The mindset of organizational leaders is vital to their success, but it’s also vital to the success of their teams and their organizations. Biblical leaders and champions that set good examples and show others how to impact others are special.
Finding, vetting, and securing the right leaders for your organization can be a daunting task and it’s vital to secure the right leaders at all levels of the organization. You have to trust that the people you’re hiring to lead your organization are the right fit for your organization’s future.
FaithSearch Partners has 30+ years of proven experience in faith-based executive search. If you’re looking for differential leaders throughout your organization that can have a positive impact on your people and community, FaithSearch excels in securing leaders for nonprofit, academic, and athletic organizations.