In my office I have a few pictures of my family and leaders who I am proud of and seek to emulate. One of these is an autographed picture of Urban Meyer, who The Wall Street Journal recently headlined, “Once and Future King of College Football.” I followed Coach Meyer’s career when he coached my alma mater, the University of Utah and led them to National standing.
In 2007, he led his underdog University of Florida team to the National championship defeating Ohio State. The press headquarters for the BCS Bowl that year was our Harbor Beach Hotel. It's there that I had an opportunity to meet Coach Meyer. Later, he kindly invited me and my son, David to attend the University of Florida–Tennessee football game in Gainesville, Florida. It was a real thrill to see a college game with over 100,000 in attendance.
After the game, David and I attended a press conference with Coach Meyer, and watched some one on one interviews. We came away with the impression of Meyer as a natural born leader - a person who would be successful in business, as well as sports.
The Wall Street Journal stated that Meyer was a very curious coach and an avaricious student of all things football, always looking for a better way to win. In a recent blog, I talked about my father’s annual trip to California to see what was new in the restaurant business. When dad let me take over our first hotel, I spent a lot of time visiting our competitors, as I didn’t know anything about the hotel business.
My father used to tell me the most important trait to look for in hiring and promoting executives was drive and initiative. Coach Meyer certainly has this. Maybe even too much as it caused him to stop coaching the Florida Gators when his health suffered due to being too intense in his job.
Meyer also has a great touch with people. During the recent Oregon game, an Ohio State receiver dropped the ball on a crucial play. The receiver was so embarrassed that he refused to sit on the bench with the team. Meyer’s assistant coach found him and encouraged him to sit with the team.
It is evident that Urban Meyer and his coaches have the skills to make leadership work: compassion for the players, drive, intense curiosity about the game, desire to learn more, and a willingness to work very hard to bring the team to victory. These are traits all good leaders possess.
I’m Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the Move.