Quiet Strength, Quiet Leader, Quiet Winner

life hacks

by Don Frederiksen

Tony Dungy, quiet leader, coach of the Indianapolis Colts and the winning coach of Super Bowl XLI, is the fifth leader to take a place in my personal Quiet Leader Hall of Fame.

With this profile, Coach Dungy joins a distinguished group of leaders that includes:

Granted, it feels like an unusual choice to me to propose a sports hero as a Quiet Leader of note. Nevertheless, I was moved by his leadership and approach when I read his autobiography, Quiet Strength: The Principles, Practices, & Priorities of a Winning Life. He may be the ideal Quiet Leader role model, a contemporary figure who is very public about his quiet approach, his faith, and his success. I’m not alone in my admiration. Time Magazine in 2007 named Dungy to their list of “The 100 Most Influential People in the World.”

In 1972, I was a student at the University of Minnesota when Tony arrived on campus to play football and basketball. As a member of the U of M Football Marching band, I watched from the sidelines as Dungy grew as the quarterback/leader of the Golden Gophers. I was a Dungy fan in those early days when I knew nothing of his leadership approach. I only knew that he was a winner.

Dungy reconnected with Minnesota in 1992 when he returned to become the defensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings. I remember thinking at the time as I enjoyed listening to Dungy on sports talk radio thinking how I would prefer Dungy to be the Vikings head coach. It wouldn’t happen at Minnesota.

Dungy left Minnesota to become the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and it was in this this role where his style, unique in the football world, become public and prominent. Let’s explore his leadership from using snippets of his book.

On Vision
“The first step toward creating an improved future is developing the ability to envision it. Only vision allows us to transform dreams of greatness into the reality of achievement through human action.”

On his quiet approach
I don’t yell a lot. In fact yelling will be rare,” … if my voice at this level won’t get your attention, and you believe you need someone to yell at you to correct you or motivate you, then we’ll probably need to find you another team to play for so that you can play your best.”


“Take Ownership No excuses, no explanations.”

Family Balance
In his book, Tony stresses the importance of family and life balance. He cites that football is only a game. But tells the team directly at the beginning of every season, ” I want each guy to understand this his family is his first priority.”

Albert Einstein provides a quote that nicely underscores the Dungy approach,

Try not to become a man of success but rather a man of value.

A great summary of the quiet leadership style of Tony Dungy.

Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly.

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2 Responses to “Quiet Strength, Quiet Leader, Quiet Winner”

  1. June 24, 2023 at 3:11 pm #

    Dungy reminds me of the late Vince Lombardi who always said that God, family, and the Green Bay Packers were his top three priorities in life, in that order. I suspect if you substituted the Indianapolis Colts for the Packers, the phrase would fit perfectly.

    John Calvin’s last blog post..Playstation Network Suspended - Stupid Words Cause Panic

  2. April 4, 2023 at 11:57 am #

    Does anyone know where I can find free online grant applications?

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