Be a Leader Gladly Followed

Written By Steve Watson


Employee Engagement

 One of my “friends” on my Facebook page is Tony Dungy, former NFL head coach. His resume is impressive. His accomplishments include being the first African American head coach to win a Super Bowl, and setting a NFL record for consecutive playoff appearances in one year. His quiet, non-conformist “teaching” style of coaching burly NFL players raised a few eyebrows, yet it worked. He led teams to victory after victory, and gained immense respect from those same players in the process. You’d think after that type of leadership success it would be time to sit back on his laurels relaxing comfortably in his favorite easy chair. Not so. Great leaders rarely rely on past successes to ensure future ones.

Since his retirement from football in 2009, Mr. Dungy has kept busy as an on-air analyst for the NFL, and serves as the national spokesman for All Pro Dad, a faith-based, football-themed program where professional football players and coaches speak on the importance of fatherhood. He is a best-selling author and a sought-after public speaker. He is seen as a football expert, dedicated father, devout Christian, and active community leader. And he has over 86,000 followers on Facebook. Yes, Tony Dungy is a leader gladly followed.

So, how does one become a leader gladly followed?

Simply put, Tony Dungy is successful as a leader gladly followed because he continues to lead with conviction, authenticity, and confidence. In today’s high-stress world of “getting ahead,” it’s sometimes too easy to leave character at the door as we enter our professional domains. The demands of success dictate that it’s acceptable to step over and around those who stand in your way. Time constraints and deadlines cause us to take shortcuts. Our guiding compass becomes the clock and the paycheck instead of the success of a company or the growth of those we are leading. As we get caught up in day-to-day work, leading with character may fall down a few notches on our priority list. Yet it could make the difference between just being followed and being gladly followed.

In determining the character traits that are most important to you, consider this: As you lead your team, what impressions are you leaving each day? That you share your successes with the team? That you are authentic, approachable, and confident? That you stick to your convictions, and display internal authority? That you display the very ethics you demand?

Kenneth Blanchard, well known author and management expert, puts it this way: The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.

Character is a great influencer.

Tony Dungy is seen as a leader because he continues to lead through character and conviction. If you want a legacy of leadership that resonates now and for years to come, lead with character. Take your entire self to work; don’t leave your best traits at the door. Do this, and you will find yourself naturally and gladly followed.


The Biltmore Center for Professional Development offers programs that can take your business to the next level of success, including Leadership Development for Managers and Executives. For more information or a list of programs, visit our website or call 828-225-6158