The Locker Room

What Leads to Leadership?

Posted by Lori Schmidt April 25, 2013 0 Comments
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According to his assistants, head coach Urban Meyer does more than just lead the football Buckeyes.

He also teaches others to lead.

“He talks about the great leaders that we lost last year, but that wasn’t accidental,” said cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs. “Those kids weren’t necessarily all great and gifted leaders. He molded that in those kids.”

“He’s developing me as a leader. Every time I go into a staff meeting, if he says, ‘The sky is blue,’ I write it down.”

Assuming, of course, that the insights he’s actually recording are deeper than, “The sky is blue,” what would Coombs’ notes reveal? If we could steal a glance, what would we learn?

We don’t need espionage to get some idea. We can glean something from what members of coach Meyer’s staff have said about their boss and the lessons he’s shared.

Believe to Achieve:

Obviously, you’re not going to teach a skill if you don’t believe it’s teachable. So the first key for Meyer’s staff was to buy into the idea that they could mold players into field generals.

Indeed, OSU’s coaches view leadership like any other football-related talent.

“It’s just like the guy, he’s not naturally really strong or really fast, but he finds a way to be really good,” said co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell. “He maximizes the potential that he has.”

Define The Goal:

Several Buckeye assistants pointed out that players who possess charisma are actually capable of being destructive.

“There are certain guys that players gravitate to and that have an innate ability,” said wide receivers coach Zach Smith. “That doesn’t mean they know how to lead in a positive way, or to lead in the way that we need them to.”

So to have effective leadership, a team must have very defined goals that players can guide their teammates toward reaching.

“As long as they’re leading in the right direction, we’re in good shape,” Fickell said.

Make It a Priority:

Coombs points out that coach Meyer had weekly meetings with a number of players on the team this spring.

It was a “rather large leadership” committee we’re told, and it gathered for a minimum of 30 minutes on Wednesdays. They would watch a video, go over reading material and–if someone notable was in town–might hear from a speaker.

No wonder then, that Coombs describes leadership as a “constant focus” of the Scarlet and Gray.

Stress Leadership and Followship:

Even the greatest leaders in the world can only accomplish so much if they are surrounded by those still determined to go their own way or put their own needs first.

Coombs, for instance, told the story of Christian Bryant and a “passion speech” he gave after a close 52-49 victory over Indiana last year. However, as he did so, Coombs not only emphasized the speech, but the fact that it inspired Bryant’s teammates to recognize his leadership.

In other words? “There are always leaders, the key is the young guys and everybody around them believe that they’re leaders.” Fickell explained.

To hear more about what the OSU staff has to say about leadership and who might emerge in that capacity for their team, listen here: