January 16, 2012

Meade Gives Moving Speech on 'Pillars of Leadership'

by Matt Forman | LaxMagazine.com | Convention Blog Replay

Richie Meade made his first public appearance at U.S. men's national team coach, giving a talk titled "Pillars of Leadership" Saturday at the US Lacrosse National Convention.
© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

PHILADELPHIA -- Making his first public appearance since being named Team USA men's senior national team about a month ago, Richie Meade delivered an impassioned, rousing speech Saturday titled "Pillars of Leadership" at the US Lacrosse National Convention.

No stranger to the concept of leadership, Meade served as head coach of the United States Naval Academy men's team for 17 years, leading the Midshipmen to a 142-97 (.589) record .

Now the 12th head coach of Team USA, Meade will lead the U.S. in its title defense at the 2014 Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) World Championship, hosted by US Lacrosse and held in Denver, Colo., July 10-19, 2014.

During his speech, Meade said there's no definition for leadership, though he offered five foundational terms upon which the term rests: compassion, character, commitment, competence and courage.

Compassion: "Everything you read about leadership starts with tolerance, love, caring, listening, understanding, sensitivity, time. Compassion is an aspect of leadership we shouldn't be afraid of. It's not weakness. Leadership is trying to determine whether you can be humble enough and see if you can find a way for someone to be successful."

Character: "Actions, values, responsibilities, respect, honor, selflessness. You demonstrate character by action. Your actions dictate who you are, not your words. Shut up and show me. And responsibility is a big part of it."

Commitment: "This is a really subjective area — work ethic, hustle, punctuality, preparation, standards, strengths and weaknesses. What's hustle? You decide. You create that paradigm. What we tell our guys all the time, and it takes no time to do these things: Be on time, be prepared and be ready. There are things that happen that test commitment. It's not about dealing with crisis, it's about preventing crisis."

Competence: "Performance, knowledge, coachability, ability, understanding, poise, application of skills. You are what your performance says you are. And you need to have standards. What we tell our people is this, and this is probably more important the younger you go: Your standards are what you accept in your presence."

Courage: "In the military, physical and mental toughness are two of the greatest commodities. Persistence, endurance, humility, sacrifice, principle-based decision making. You can't develop toughness without toughness; anything you can do that puts your people in situations that are physically and mentally tough will benefit them. 'How long are we going to run?' Shut up. Just run. We'll stop when we stop. That's toughness. 'We should do more stick work.' Nope, we're just running. At what point do you give in? At what point do you surrender? The people around you are more important than you — being selfless. Thinking about your teammates' welfare before your own."

Meade, perpetually quotable, had a number of gems during his speech.

  •  "Leadership is a contact sport. It requires participation, and it requires action. If you're not willing to act, you cannot lead."
  • "You can have fun. You can have joy. But I believe, to be successful, you can't skip steps. You can't choose to lead today, and not choose to lead tomorrow."
  • "Leaders lead 24 hours a day, every day, forever. You're always a leader. You can't turn it on or turn it off. We have a problem if you say, 'I don't want to lead right now. It's 2 o'clock in the morning, and I don't feel like doing it.'"

Later this month, Meade will attend and observe many of his future players in action at Champion Challenge, a US Lacrosse event, where Team USA will take on NCAA semifinalist University of Denver on Sunday, Jan. 29.

"I've had a lot of people congratulate me for being the coach of the world team, and I appreciate that — that's the easy part," Meade said at the end of his speech. "But I'm going to have the opportunity to bring a group of great athletes into a competitive international arena and defend the honor and represent a generation of Americans that have gone to war, that have sacrificed beyond what any of us know and continue to do so. It's my hope, my goal, is that the performance of this team is going to honor their sacrifice. Those qualities that men that earn the honor to be on this team are going to have to acquire or have. If we can do that, with our talent and with our coaching, I believe we're going to be successful."

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