Leadership in Sports Toward a Championship: Part 1
“The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.” -Vince Lombardi
Urban Frank Meyer, III who was born July 10, 1964 in Toledo, Ohio and grew up in Ashtabula where he attended St. John High School and played minor league baseball for the Atlanta Braves for 2 years as a shortstop. Meyer is currently the head football coach of the OSU Buckeyes who won the program’s 8th National Championship in 2014. Coach Meyer has some great ideas on leadership in sports in his latest book titled: Above the Line: Lessons in Leadership and Life from a Championship Season published in 2015.
Meyer states: “I love to challenge our coaches every day. I love for people to tell me what they think. And if they want to disagree, that’s even better. As it says in Proverbs, iron sharpens iron. Out of the sharpening process come better ideas and more committed performance. I don’t want yes-men around me. I want people who’ve thought stuff through and are bringing it to me because they think it will make us better. A big part of being a true leader is being open to new ideas. And those ideas come from thinking” (Meyer, p. 192). An African Proverb states another version of the Golden Rule: “If it’s not good for everyone, it’s no good for anyone.” A Native American proverb says, “A good chief gives, he does not take.”
“William Deresiewicz, a gifted author’s central point was that true leadership comes from within. It comes from a deep introspection into your beliefs. But if you can’t put aside distractions long enough to be alone in reflection, formulate your own ideas and opinions, then you are handicapping your ability to think, make decision, and lead. As your problems become more challenging and unique, your thinking needs to become more original. Real world solutions require real world leadership. Standard, conventional, cookie-cutter thinking will not enable you to be the leader that your situation requires…Thinking means concentrating on one thing long enough to develop an idea about it…Not learning other people’s ideas, or memorizing a body of information, however much those may sometimes be useful. Developing your own ideas. In short, thinking for yourself. You simply cannot do that in bursts of twenty seconds at a time, constantly interrupted by Facebook messages, or Twitter tweets, or fiddling with your iPod, or watching something on YouTube… Army officers must routinely confront issues that are far beyond what most people ever contend with. He says that the way to cultivate the strength and wisdom to do the right thing is through deep, fully engaged, solitary thinking…The time to start preparing is now, waiting until you have to confront them in practice would be like waiting for your first firefight to learn how to shoot your weapon. Once the situation is upon you, it’s too big. You have to be prepared in advance. You need to know, already, who you are and what you believe: not what the Army believes, not what your peers believe, but what you believe.” (Meyer, p. 195-196)
Part 1 of a three part series.
Meyer, U. (2015). Above the line: Lessons in leadership and life from a championship season. New York, NY: Penguin Press.
Dr. Michael Fredrick PhD is the Chair of Sport Studies at USSA. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.