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Authors link Steelers' values to community, family life

| Friday, Oct. 3, 2014, 5:57 p.m.
Tunch Ilkin
Tunch Ilkin
Damian W. Williams
Miner Publishing
Damian W. Williams
'Forged in Steel'
Miner Publishing
'Forged in Steel'

It's called “The Steelers' Way.” But its lessons resonate well beyond the football field, say Tunch Ilkin and Damian W. Williams.

Deep into the community, the business world and even family, there are core values, write the Pittsburgh authors of “Forged in Steel: The Seven Time-Tested Leadership Principles Practiced by the Pittsburgh Steelers” (Minerd Publishing, $29.95).

Those principles include leadership with a difference, attacking goals with passion, exhibiting mental toughness, embracing and living inspiring standards, always working toward improvement, developing a clear plan for success and displaying humility.

“The enduring leadership principles from the Rooneys, Chuck Noll, Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin are timeless and apply as much now as they did 40 years ago during the first Super Bowl run,” Williams says. “We're finding it appeals to Steelers Nation, corporate America and the faith community at large.”

Williams is the founder and CEO of Leadership League, of which Ilkin is an executive partner. The organization's business mission is to help sports properties generate more revenue with their assets. Its higher mission, Williams says, is “to do good through sports.”

The idea reaches readers, Williams believes, because it pulls together common principles that we inherently have for becoming better leaders at work, at home and in the community. “In short, the principles focus on knowing your main thing, being humble about it, building the right team and working hard at mastering the basics,” Williams says.

The practices that transform marriages and families are similar to the ones that transform the work performance of organizational teams, he says.

“A lot of times, a football team is like a family, and coaches have that parental kind of influence and relationships,” says Ilkin, who was offensive tackle for the Steelers for 13 years and now is director of Men's Ministries for South Hills Bible Chapel.

“Without a doubt,” he says, “I learned a lot about what it means to be a husband and father just watching the older guys on the Steelers and the way they carried themselves, and watching The Chief (late Steelers' founder Art Rooney), who was so loving to so many people.”

“The truths that Chuck Noll taught me, I still quote them,” Ilkin says. “(They) apply today as a men's pastor and as a broadcaster, as a dad and a husband, as much as they did as a football player or a young father or husband.”

Ilkin is touched by the feedback from readers. “The nice part of a project is when someone says, ‘Hey, that really helped me,' ” he says. “If something I've been a part of can enrich or impact someone in a positive way, to me, that's a huge blessing.”

Rex Rutkoski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4664 or

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