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Urban Meyer’s Guide to Developing Exceptional Leaders

Urban Meyer, a 33-year coaching veteran, and 3-time national champion head coach, delivered the 2021 AFCA Virtual Convention Kickoff Address. The Jacksonville Jaguars’ newly hired head coach outlined the differences between great and average leaders, highlighted three factors that cause an individual to underperform, and shared how leaders can pull the “individual best” out of each member of their organization.

Leadership is at a Premium

Coach Meyer teaches that great leadership is now more important than ever. He posits that great leaders focus on the why [cause] of an individual’s performance rather than the what [effect].

“When someone is struggling, the ‘what’ is rather obvious,” said Meyer.

RELATED CONTENT: Inside The Headset: Urban Meyer Kickoff Session [PODCAST]

He uses the phrase “look under the hood” to describe the practice of diving into the ‘why’ of an individual’s performance. While average leaders set goals and become angry when they are not achieved, great leaders focus on cause and effect to fix the underlying problems.

One large aspect of this evaluation process into the cause and effect is gaining clarity through both individual and team assessments. Learning to identify positive and negative aspects within the life of an individual and the organization, as a whole, is vital to one’s development as a leader.



Leadership Strategies for Maximum Capacity

When an individual is not performing at the level expected of them, Meyer teaches that there are two courses of action a leader can take, and one they must avoid at all costs. The first course is to terminate the individual from the organization. While this takes very little time and effort, Meyer warns it can create a culture of distrust. The other course of action is development. Choosing this route can take an inordinate amount of time, but it will foster a culture of trust and compassion. Meyer further cautions leaders of blaming others, complaining about uncontrollable situations, or defending one’s own actions.

“Development is lifting the hood and finding exactly what is causing the issues with this player”

– Urban Meyer

Great Leaders Get to the Root of the Problem

Coach Meyer has consistently found that when an individual is underperforming, the cause always falls into one of three categories; lack of trust, inadequate skillset, or personal conflict. In each of these areas, it is the leader’s responsibility to come alongside the struggling individual and develop trust, modify the skill set, or work through interpersonal conflict with them.

When an entire unit or team is underperforming, Meyer has found that it is often the direct result of an unhealthy environment. A lack of trust, selfish coaches or players, and an off-balance relationship between goals and work ethic each lead to an organization failing to reach its targeted outcome. Meyer teaches that when these situations arise, a great leader is one who is slow to anger, creates transparent dialogue, and resets the culture through love and ownership.


Final Thoughts

Coach Meyer concludes his presentation by imploring his listeners to become masters at honing the realization of cause and effect. In order to be a great leader, one must look past the what, and focus on the why.

“Elite leaders are experts at cause and effect. They do the very best they can to find out the why.”

– Urban Meyer

To watch Coach Meyer’s full video along with all other sessions from the 2021 Virtual Convention, log into the AFCA member portal and browse through the digital library.

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