Leadership Lessons


Leadership is a concept that has significantly influenced humankind since the creation of the earth. Behind any successful aspect of humanity such as economics, politics and social welfare, stands an effective leader. From Abraham in the Bible or the Holy Quran to Martin Luther King, Winston Churchill, Mahatma Gandhi and Steve jobs, it is evident that there are various ways to lead as there are leaders.

Leadership generally refers to the power, influence or legitimate authority that transforms the human resource in an organization with respect to its goals and objectives. Leadership style is a manner of motivating people, providing direction and implementing plans. Some of the basic leadership styles outlined by Kurt Lewin include autocratic, democratic and Laissez-faire. Autocratic leadership style is characterized by centralized power and control (Manning & Curtis, 2003). The leader solely makes group activities and decision. In democratic leadership style, group participation and majority rule are the underlying elements. The laissez-faire leadership approach is characterized by very low levels of the decisions and activities of the leader.

In contemporary organizations, many leaders integrate various leadership approaches to achieve organizational goals and objectives. This article highlights some of the leadership lessons by researching Randy Pausch and Tony Dungy. Leadership strategies outline every leader’s personal leadership style.

Randy Pausch & Tony Dungy

Randy Pausch (October 23, 1960 – July 25, 2008) was an American professor in the field of computer science (Pausch R. , 2008). He is famous for his lecture titled ‘The Last Lecture: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.’ Randy is celebrated for being one of the most inspiring leaders. In his career as a computer scientist, Randy embraces democratic or participatory leadership style. He borrowed much of his leadership skills from his parents and the environment. In his lectures, he points out the element of working towards dreams or goals.  Effective leaders are visionary and strive to work towards set goals (Pausch, 2008). Randy has similar leadership traits with Walter Elias Disney, one of the cofounders of the Walt Disney Company. They both work out their dreams and achieve them. Randy pointed out that anything is possible, with respect to man’s successful landing on the moon. His leadership style was also characterized by basic principles of respecting and empowering others (Pausch, 2012). Randy highlights the importance of letting people express their creativity. These traits are vividly portrayed in the Alice software project. In his inspirational speeches pertaining to life, he points out the importance of motivation. Motivation has a great influence on individual and organizational performance. Randy also stresses on the importance of having fun. He encouraged his colleagues and the public to work, as well as, have fun with colleagues as a way of creating a healthy working environment. As an effective leader, Randy stressed on treatment of people and things distinctively (Pausch R. , 2008). This approach creates a feeling of belonging and respect vertically and horizontally within and without any entity (Manning & Curtis, 2003).

Tony Dungy is a renowned coach and a former American football player in the National Football League (NFL) (Doeden, 2009). His leadership approach led to being the first African American head coach in NFL to win the Super Bowl. He won the Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts against the Chicago Bears. Dungy is a great leader and emphasizes on significance rather than success (Dungy & Bates, 2008).  He also appreciates the positive impact of mutual respect in any environment.  In an interview after his win with the Colts, he attributed success to the fact that his players were motivated and worked together as a team towards the shared goal. Dungy employs participatory leadership style through which he managed to help each player achieve the best. He quoted to have been inspired by his parents, who were teachers. Religion is also attached to his leadership approach. He asserted the need to honor parents an occasionally referred to the Bible while giving his speeches. Dungy discredits autocratic leadership style since it kills creativity and vertical integration in any organization. Dungy’s coaching philosophy was to put family and faith a head of football (Dungy & Bates, 2008). Lovie Smith, Chicago’s coach pointed out that Dungy would remain calm and critically address issues in terms of adversity. He also stressed on respect among players and between players and the management. Dungy also pointed that it is essential for a leader to be independent in leadership style. Furthermore, he points out the importance of continuous learning among leaders (Doeden, 2009). In addition, he attributed his success to continuous practice and respect for critics.

The leadership aspects of these exceptional leaders can be employed in any environment. These include, honesty, humility, commitment, visionary and democratic. Randy and Tony also emphasized on convincing team members that their roles are replaceable. One of the key themes discussed in Tony’s book, ‘Quiet Strength’, is the equality in treatment of employees at the workplace. Lessons from these great leaders emphasize on initiating structures and showing consideration. A good leader should also be willing to make changes and treat all people in a team. Consideration can also be shown through support and backing up group members.


In the current dynamic organizational environments, effective leadership is paramount in the in the success of any entity. Good leaders motivate, inspire and set a good example to others. They are also courageous and trustworthy. Effective leaders define relationships between themselves and their team members. High performing leaders also establish good communication channels and means of getting work done. Leaders who score high also cultivate respect, friendship support and trust with subordinates. Therefore, it is essential to show support, trust and respect to staff members.


Doeden, M. (2009). Tony Dungy. Minneapolis: Twenty-First Century Books.

Dungy, T., & Bates, A. J. (2008). You Can Do It! New York: Little Simon Inspirations.

Manning, G., & Curtis, K. (2003). The art of leadership. Boston: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.

Pausch, J. (2012). Dream New Dreams:Reimagining My Life After Loss. New York: Random House Digital.

Pausch, R. (2008). The Last Lecture. New York: Hyperion.


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