27 Quotes on Leadership and Team Culture from Urban Meyer

Urban Meyer is a 3-time national football college champion coach. He won a pair of titles during the 2000s while at the University of Florida and a third title with the Ohio State Buckeyes. It was the third title, won in 2014, that serves as the backdrop for Meyer’s leadership book, “Above the Line: Lessons […]

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27 Leadership Quotes Urban Meyer
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Urban Meyer is a 3-time national football college champion coach. He won a pair of titles during the 2000s while at the University of Florida and a third title with the Ohio State Buckeyes. It was the third title, won in 2014, that serves as the backdrop for Meyer’s leadership book, “Above the Line: Lessons in Leadership and Life from a Championship Program.

The book provides a comprehensive blueprint and set of strategies for building a legendary team culture, whether it’s on the football field or in the boardroom.

Here are some of my favorite quotes and passages from Above the Line by Urban Meyer.

  1. “Average leaders have quotes. Good leaders have a plan. Exceptional leaders have a system.”
  2. “Unit cohesion is the bond, the deep interpersonal connection, created among the members of the unit.”
  3. “People do not experience your intentions; they experience your behavior.”
  4. “Exceptional teams are built on a foundation of deep trust. In order to train and compete at an elite level, you must push each other very hard… But you can push only to the level of trust you have built with each other and with your coaches.”
  5. “The strength of a team is determined by the strength of the connections on the team. A great team requires great relationships.”
  6. “Trust is earned through your behavior, not granted by your position. And it is earned through repeated behavior over time.”
  7. “For there to be a deep connection, you have to spend time with your players. They have to feel your commitment to them, experience your concern on a daily basis. That’s when we initiated the social outings and barbeques. We instructed our unit coaches to start every meeting by talking for five or ten minutes about things other than football. We encouraged them to ask their players about their lives away from football, and learn about their families and girlfriends and schoolwork.”
  8. “If players are going to make the big push to join the elites, they need to believe it will be worth it. It’s important to remind them of the quality of the leadership at Ohio State—let them know they are being taught by masters of their craft who have made a significant difference in other players’ lives.”
  9. “It’s about reinforcing that this is a special place that has produced special players.”
  10. “This isn’t theory. It’s testimony. This is who played here. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of this great tradition?”
  11. “When things aren’t going right, the most important thing you can do is slow down, go deep, and figure out why. It is very easy in the world we live in to get so caught up in the tyranny of the urgent that we don’t make time to think.”
  12. “A lot of people really don’t want to think deeply. They’d prefer to play it safe, not rock the boat, and never stray far from the status quo.”
  13. “A big part of being a true leader is being open to new ideas. And those ideas come from thinking.”
  14. “I love to challenge our coaches every day. I love for people to tell me what they think. And if they want to disagree, that’s even better… Iron sharpens iron. Out of the sharpening process come better ideas and more committed performance. I don’t want yes-men around me.”
  15. “The culture is the only acceptable standard of performance.”
  16. “Talent is a gift. Greatness is a choice.”
  17. “We are not measured by our intentions, but by our actions.”
  18. “Performance cannot be declared.”
  19. “Culture is what leads when no one is watching.”
  20. “Competitive excellence is putting in the work necessary to remove all doubt in your ability to win your individual battle.”
  21. “The most important culture message you send is the way you behave. If it’s not happening in you, it will never happen through you. If you don’t believe it, no one else will believe it.”
  22. “Sometimes it’s a grind. Sometimes tedious and uncomfortable things are required for success. And that means doing what needs to be done even though you don’t feel like it.”
  23. “Don’t give in. Step up and embrace the grind.”
  24. “If you want to win in the future, you must win the grind today. And then tomorrow and the next day and the next.”
  25. “We believe that being elite is not about how talented you are. It is about how tough you are. To achieve anything great in life, you have to fight for it.”
  26. “Here’s the not-so-hidden secret for achieving success: clarify what you really want, then work as hard as you can for as long as it takes. Toughness can achieve things that talent by itself can never accomplish.”
  27. “Either you worked harder than your opponents or you got outworked. The challenge is to build a culture—a competitive environment—where everyone gives relentless effort every day. A culture everyone wants but few get.”


Meyer’s “Above the Line” is easily one of my favorite leadership books for coaches. It is available in various formats from Amazon, including in print, as an eBook with Kindle, and on audiobook. Highly recommended for anyone who is interested in developing a high-performance team culture.

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