Brian Billick, head coach of the Baltimore Ravens of the National Football League, delivered the keynote address at the University of Maryland, Baltimore's 2005 Commencement. The ceremony was held Friday, May 20, at 3 p.m. at the 1st Mariner Arena on Baltimore and Howard streets.
Billick challenged the graduates to be accountable, to become true leaders, and to recognize the teamwork that got them to their present positions as graduates as they embark on their professional careers. "Leaders must be able to see the big picture. In order to be good leaders, you have to know how to be good followers because part of being a leader is having had to follow someone else at one time in your life," he said.
"If you 'Google' the word leadership, you'll get 150 million hits. If you 'Google' the word followership, you'll get a little over 30,000 hits, but the two--leadership and followership--are interchangeable," he said. "You've spent your student years following around a mentor, someone who knew things better than you, someone who taught you, and now it's time to become a leader."
Billick defined a leader as someone who can visualize and stay focused on the big picture. He said such a leader is someone who has the sense to understand that the dictates that have been given may not necessarily fit the situation--a leader must have the responsibility and courage to see past the specific circumstance and decide to act accordingly despite whatever instructions that they may have been given. "Seeing the big picture, the person who gets it, is taking the risk to make a judgment."
He described the graduates' diplomas as "contracts" of accountability with their loved ones-friends and family whose sacrifice and encouragement helped them to attain their professional goals. He urged the graduates, as accountable professionals, to remember those loved ones and the institutions that have helped them along by giving back to their families, to their communities, and to their institutions.
He offered an observation. "It was amazing how what came over me was appreciation of how many competent, passionate people it took to get me to the stage and holding that trophy. Have you ever done anything in your life of consequence that you did truly alone? Recognize that there is no way to pay back what they have done for you, and so now it's your turn to become that mentor, that friend, and provide the same services to them," he said.
Approximately 1,300 students graduated from the Dental School, the Graduate School, the schools of law, medicine, nursing, social work, and pharmacy, and from programs in dental hygiene, medical and research technology, physical therapy, and genetic counseling. Earlier in the school year, 500 other students received their degrees. Those students were invited to participate in the 2005 Commencement.
Video highlights, including the entire Billick speech, can be seen using Real Player by clicking here.