December 31 2015

Leadership Lessons from Coach Urban Meyer: E+R=O


Tom Feeney, Safelite® President and CEO
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E + R = O

As a sponsor of The Ohio State Athletics, Safelite AutoGlass has had the rare opportunity to learn directly from their coaching staff, including Head Football Coach Urban Meyer. As the Buckeyes prepare to take the field in Friday’s Fiesta Bowl, I thought it was a good time to share these leadership lessons.

During a leadership session earlier this year, Coach Meyer shared what he’s learned about the importance of leadership and culture to drive a winning team. He’s partnered with Tim Kite, an executive coach that teaches leadership principles to business leaders. What Kite (and Coach Meyer) teaches is that sustained exceptional behavior will result in sustained exceptional results.

His concept seems pretty simple:

E + R = O

E is an event R is your response O is the outcome

We have a similar E plus R equals O philosophy. That’s happy people create happy customers, which equals profitable growth. Most customer service situations are considered the E or event. An engaged employee will more likely have a service-mindset, can-do attitude and caring heart in serving their customers. A manager’s leadership style and the climate he or she creates is key to creating a culture with engaged employees that will create memorable experiences for their customers. The R or response, ultimately results in a happy customer and profitable growth for Safelite, which is our O or outcome.
The point is you can’t control an event or the outcome. What is in your control is your response to both. Kite coins this the “R-Factor.”

So when you respond, you have two choices– either respond above the line or below the line. (Above the line is what you should strive for.)

A below-the-line response usually involves BCD tactics– Blame, Complain or Defend. He pointed out that all BCD responses are toxic and don’t benefit anyone.

His advice – “manage the R above the line.”


Kite suggests that there are things you can do to manage your response:

1. Press Pause between the event and the response, determine the response you want.

2. Get Your Mind Right: Demonstrate mental toughness by getting out of a bad mood into a good one. Use positive self talk.

3. Step-up: To respond above the line you can’t always take the easy way (it might be hard) and you have to go against what you always do

4. Make a Difference: Your R is an E for others

5. Build Skill: Everyday habits don’t build skill.

We’ve talked about how great leaders do four things really well. They build a culture of trust so that people feel safe and empowered, they hire top talent, they create a circle of safety and they put their needs last. There’s a reason why we put leadership as the foundation of our strategic framework…because great leaders drive performance by inspiring others to be at their best.


If you look at successful organizations and teams throughout history you’ll see these characteristics over and over. Like the Ohio State Buckeye football team, we understand that achieving greatness starts with leadership.

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