Germans remember Urs Meier well. He was the one who gave the yellow card to Michael Ballack in the 2002 semifinal against South Korea. And thus denied Ballack a place in the final. Despite all the headwinds, Urs Meier saw the matter clearly, made a lightning-quick decision and stands by his decision today just as he did then. “Well, what can you do, that’s just the way we Swiss are,” he says with a smile, and there it is, that refreshing, boyish charm with which he beguiles his listeners and spectators. And suddenly you have a smile on your face, too.
Urs Meier knows as maybe no other how to make fast decisions. He is considered one of the most famous referees of recent decades and has also made a name for himself as a TV expert for the German television channel ZDF, at the latest since the 2006 World Cup. Urs Meier promptly received the German Television Award for his performance off the soccer field. For the 2010 World Cup, the TV station decided to give him his own show right away.
Urs Meier – Taking decisions, leadership and motivation.
Swiss-born Urs Meier, you could say, is now living his second great talent: speaking in front of people and carrying them away. With wit and self-irony and always with a twinkle in his eye, he talks about decisions and how important it is to make them quickly and accurately.
“That’s the crucial difference between decisions in private or business life or on the soccer field,” explains Urs Meier in his dynamic way. He speaks quickly, in this lecture the language is High German with a fine Swiss accent, and moves constantly. Once an athlete, always an athlete. He actually wanted to become a professional soccer player himself, but at the age of 14 he realized that he would not pursue this career. Perhaps his first important decision.
But coming back to the question: What is the difference between the decisions made on the pitch and those made in everyday life? Quite clearly: the speed! “If I hesitate one second here on the court, and one second is not very long, I already look unsure. If I hesitate two seconds, I already look very uncertain, and if I hesitate three seconds, it would be a medium disaster. Zero or one hundred,” says Urs Meier. “There are no 50 percent goals and there are no 70 percent penalties – it’s yes or no.”
He shares an important principle in refereeing: “The good referee whistles faster than the crowd.” And, “After major decisions come minor decisions immediately.” That, he says, is an important insight. Because we’re often still preoccupied with the big decision we’ve just made, but the following decisions that seem unimportant can become dangerous. It is important to stay focused and attentive, even under immense pressure. This is precisely the art: making fair decisions not only under great time pressure, but also against other opinions in case of doubt. That takes a lot of stamina. And Urs Meier knows how it feels to be booed by half the stadium.
Urs Meier speaks in German and English about ball sports leadership and Leadership 4.0, motivation and success, and team sports. The titles of his current lecture topics are “You are the decision” and “Between the fronts – decisions under pressure”.