Leadership in Sports Toward a Championship: Part 2
“Complexity is your enemy. Any fool can make something complicated. It is hard to make something simple.” -Richard Branson
Urban Meyer served as the head coach of the Bowling Green Falcons from 2001 to 2002, the Utah Utes from 2003 to 2004, and the Florida Gators from 2005 to 2010. He played defensive back at University of Cincinnati before earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology and he went on to earn his master’s degree in sport administration at OSU. 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: “It seems to me that solitude is the very essence of leadership. The position of the leader is ultimately solitary, even intensely lonely, one. However many people you may consult, you are the one who has to make the hard decisions. And at such moments, all you really have is yourself’… “Sometimes great leadership demands space and doing nothing. It took me a long time to learn that. I used to be a terrible delegator. There is a great conceit in believing that there’s no way the job will get done right if I don’t do it. When I was at Florida I was almost obsessed with taking it all on. Sure, we had success, but ultimately it wore me down and impaired my ability to lead the program”…“I used to love to play chess when I was a kid. I would play with my father all the time. I loved the challenge of thinking hard, trying to anticipate as many moves ahead as possible. It’s mind-boggling to know that an international master such as Bobby Fischer could look at the board for five seconds and know the next five or six moves he would need to make…The greatest visionaries in every field have the gift for looking ahead. They don’t react. They see, they think, and then they respond. In the mid-2000’s, Steve Jobs and his team at Apple hated using conventional flip phones and the smartphones that were invading the market…They decided they could build a better phone. As they were designing what would become the iPhone, they had a critical engineering problem to solve. The ubiquitous iPods at the time featured the click wheel to quickly scroll through and navigate the device. Initially, they thought this would be a great way to navigate contacts on a phone as well. However, a new, relatively unused touch screen technology had emerged that enabled tactile, interactive navigation. Jobs looked at the market and saw something nobody else saw. And the world has never been the same since.” (Meyer, p. 196 – 198). Finally, a popular quote summarizes leadership well stating: No matter how educated, talented, rich, or cool you believe you are, how you treat people ultimately tells all. Integrity is everything!
Dr. Michael Fredrick is the Chair of Sport Studies at USSA, he can be reached at mfredrick
Part 2 of a three part series. Part 1
Meyer, U. (2015). Above the line: Lessons in leadership and life from a championship season. New York, NY: Penguin Press.