“He realized he wasn’t inheriting a team that necessarily had a bunch of discipline and a real high level of commitment.” – Ohio State defensive line coach Mike Vrabel

Urban Meyer did not inherit the best situation when he took the job as head football coach at Ohio State.  Coming off a 6-7 season, facing scandal from the Jim Tressel era, a one-year bowl ban, and an undisciplined team, Meyer needed to reverse the school’s negative momentum.

There is a difference between sensing opportunity and seizing it!  Great leaders seize opportunity.  Meyer knew that with the school’s alumni, tradition, recruiting base, and considerable financial resources, that great opportunity had presented itself.  To be seized, it needed a single word – leadership!

In its November 19th issue, Sports Illustrated profiled this incredible coach and leader as did the November 24th ESPN College Gameday.  The following are 10 lessons I gleaned from those features on what leaders need to do to maximize opportunity. 

  • Great Leaders Evaluate Reality – Meyer had a proper understanding of the current situation at Ohio State.  He said, “Usually at a place like Ohio State or Florida, you’re getting a player who is an entitled player. You’re getting a player who has been better than everyone around him. You have to motivate that guy to buy into a team philosophy?”
  • Great Leaders HATE Average – Average is the enemy of opportunity.  Great leaders are not be reduced to a level of mediocrity.  During fall practice, Meyer told his team, “It’s so easy to be average.  It takes something special to be a great player.  We don’t have enough great players?  To hell with that!  We don’t want to coach average.  Why be around average?!…If there’s a touch of greatness in there, how cool would that be?”
  • Great Leaders Bring Great Energy – The most valuable thing a leader can do to seize opportunity is bring the organization ENERGY.  Meyer has a term for energy – JUICE.  “It’s the mantra that energy equals production. I don’t want to be around energy takers, I want to be around energy givers.”
  • Great Leaders Are Great Motivators – Leaders who seize opportunity are great motivators.  Longtime friend and current strength coach Mickey Marotti says, “That’s his specialty. He knows what to say, when to say it, how to say it, what buttons to push, how hard to push them, when to back off, when to hug them and when to kick them in the pants.” 
  • Great Leaders Have A Great Strategy – Meyer has a strategic plan for motivating his players.  It centers on love, fear, hate, and/or survival.  “To this day, when I have to motivate someone, I’m going to use one of those four things.”
  • Great Leaders Ask For Great Commitment – To seize the opportunity that was presented, Meyer needed to raise the level and discipline and commitment amongst the team.  Therefore, he installed vigorous 4:45 A.M. outdoor workout sessions during the winter.  Senior linebacker Etienne Sabino most likely spoke for the entire team when he said, “The low point in my life, for sure.” 
  • Great Leaders Maximize Each Moment – Great leaders know that to seize opportunity you must seize each moment opportunity presents.  Running backs coach Stan Drayton noted the team reached the point that “Coaches and players asked, ‘Am I giving everyone in this program everything I have on a daily basis?'” 
  • Great Leaders Provide Great Hope – Leaders who seize opportunity allow those they serve to have a brighter tomorrow.  Quarterback Braxton Miller joyously said, “With the staff Coach Meyer brought in and the things I’m learning from them…It’s unbelievable, and the sky is the limit.” 
  • Great Leaders Cultivate Great Relationships – Leaders who seize opportunity deeply value relationships.  Meyer deeply values his coaching staff and those on his team.  Meyer confessed, “This is what I missed. Team building and being around the guys. I love them.” 
  • Great Leaders Create Great Opportunity For Others – A rising tide lifts all ships.  Meyer’s approach is raising the level of play and created opportunity for the entire Big 10.  He said, “There are great players in this league, but not enough.  That quality is very good.  The quantity is in the SEC.  We don’t have the abundance right now.”

For more leadership principles from this incredible leader, click the link below.

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