I just started Urban Meyer's book, Above The Line, which he shares his thoughts about the Leadership Development program they implemented at Ohio St for all the players and coaches. The program is based on the system created by Focus3 founder, Tim Kight. I'll be taking notes and sharing some thoughts about the model and how student-athletes, teams, and organizations can apply the principles.
Enjoy part 1 below!
Nugget # 1. Leadership isn't a difference...it's the difference.
Urban says, "Your football system gets better when your leadership gets better." In other words, your skills and performance get better when your leadership gets better. Many people have an internal desire to develop as a player, person, professional, etc. And it's common to focus on a specific skill (e.g. become a better shooter) to improve. But you will set yourself up for failure if you focus only on developing technical skills. You must develop your self-leadership skills in addition to any technical skills to see powerful results. All skill development must be furnished with leadership development.
Key #1: Clarity of Purpose
Ask yourself, "Exactly what is it that I am after every day?" Regardless of what your role is: global CEO, teacher, football coach, or sales manager...you must always be crystal clear about your purpose.
During Urban's tenure as the head coach at Florida he was very successful but he lost focus on everything but football. He was winning games but losing his family, health, and relationships.
After resigning as the coach at Florida (due to health concerns), Urban took time off from coaching to "find himself". While working for ESPN, he met with a bunch of coaches to understand how successful coaches manage their work-life balance. In addition to the meetings with coaches, he went on a number of visits to colleges, and his visit to West Point is where he discovered the power of a clear mission statement: "To educate, train, and inspire." It's so simple, yet so powerful and clear. Urban ran with this example to help form his own powerful mission statement for his OSU Buckeye team: Nine Units Strong, signifying the importance of creating nine units (offensive line, quarterbacks, defensive line, etc) that operate at maximum capacity.
In the first couple chapters Urban talked about his faith. It was cool to learn that he is a devout Catholic. As a Catholic myself, I always believed that my faith helped me throughout my athletic career. Regardless of the highs and lows you experience in sports, you know God is always there to keep things in perspective.
When Urban decided to get back into coaching and became the coach at OSU, one of his top priorities was the implementation of a leadership development program. His friend, Tim Kight, founder of Focus3, helped him implement a structured leadership development program for the coaches and players.
Kight commented about the difference of Meyer's philosophy now versus early in his career:
In the old days Urban would get furious. Now he gets curious. He has learned in our training that you can only push people as far as the level of trust you have built with them.
I think that at more than anytime in his coaching career, Urban focuses on the powerful combination of these elements: clarity of purpose + deep trust + high standards + consistent accountability + tools that empower. He fully understands that these things are what produce elite team performance.
So rather than get angry when he doesn't get the results he wants, he looks to the system. At what point did it break down? Trust too low? Purpose unclear? Lack of skills? Low accountability? Player mismanaged his response?
I'm a big believer in using a system to develop skills...whether it's sport-specific skills or leadership skills. And I love the idea of looking at the system when there is a breakdown, rather than blaming the individual.
Urban talks about the importance of equipping his players with the necessary tools (i.e. skills) to positively change their behavior and form an elite culture. He believes the difference maker is equipping his team with mental training and leadership development tools, in addition to the football specific skills. And he's adamant that these leadership skills must be deliberately taught and learned.
Nobody wakes up saying, "Today, I am committed to being mediocre. I believe that most people want to give the best they have but don't have the necessary tools and mindset to get there."
The leadership development training at OSU helped create a common language among the players and coaches. They use a simple equation E + R = O, which stands for Event + Response = Outcome. They call it the R Factor. The equations emphasizes that you can't control all the events, but we can always control our response. And that response will determine your outcomes.
To create an elite culture, the Ohio State coaching staff and players get crystal clear on the behavior that will lead to the desired outcomes. They call this type of behavior Above the Line. Above the Line behavior is intentional, purposeful, and skillful. To behave Above the Line, you must be clear on your purpose...in every game, practice, and drill.
Below the Line behavior moves you away from your desired outcome. It is impulsive, on autopilot, and resistant. For example, a player may lose their cool when a referee blows a call and get a technical (in basketball, of course). This reaction is impulsive. This behavior may cost a team an NBA championship (a la Draymond Green) or hurt a player's draft stock (e.g. Grayson Allen tripping incidents).
Sports provide an incredible environment to demonstrate the powerful impact of Above the Line leadership (or lack there of).
The Leadership development model used by OSU (via Focus3) has helped their players identify their vulnerabilities, then plan an Above the Line response when they hit adversity.
There are tons of great ideas in this book if you are interested in implementing a leadership development program with your team or organization.
Below are the key points found at the end of the first couple chapters.
I'll share some notes on the other chapters soon!
CHAPTER 1: THE FOUNDATION NUGGETS