Rebuilding Resilience: A Ross Leaders Academy Fellow’s Story

by | Mar 16, 2023 | Ross Leaders Academy, Self-Leadership

On March 16, the Sanger Leadership Center closed out its premier year-long leadership development community, the Ross Leaders Academy (RLA). RLA is an intensive leadership program sponsored by the Deloitte Foundation where students from across U-M learn from a diverse group of peers, receive 1:1 and group coaching, and engage with 30+ years of robust research advanced by the University of Michigan’s innovative faculty. The community is designed to help students develop the skills and mindset necessary to become effective leaders in their communities and beyond. One of the key themes of RLA is resilience, which was woven throughout the program’s curriculum and activities.

During the final weeks of the program, RLA fellow Lee Collins, Weekend MBA ’23, and U.S. Army veteran, reflected on his time in the military and the lessons he learned in RLA, sharing the overlapping takeaways and his shift in perspective.

“I left the Army with so much resilience stemming from a deployment to Afghanistan and the experience of leading soldiers for four years. I thought that the rest of my life would feel easy in comparison. And truly, after going to a war, what’s the worst that could happen in the corporate world?” 

However, this strong sense of adaptability did not translate as well as Lee had envisioned.

“After several years though, that resilience broke down and small setbacks started to really knock me down. Before, I thought resilience was like a callus built from facing hardship. RLA has helped me think about resilience as a product of social, emotional, and physical dimensions that require constant attention. For me, that realization has shifted my mindset to prioritize my well-being and social relationships as ways to help boost my resilience.”

This simple shift in perspective is enough to change one’s life as a leader. In addition to a strengthened sense of resilience, students walk away from RLA with increased self-awareness, advanced self-development, a strong network of peers and mentors, and the improved ability to lead others. 

“RLA has helped me think about how to lead with my values in a much deeper way. It’s pushed me to ask myself, ‘how do I model my core value of integrity on a daily basis?’” Lee shared. “I look forward to sharing what I learned about values, inclusive leadership, and resilience across my company, with my family, and friends.”

The Ross Leaders Academy is a valuable program for U-M students interested in developing leadership skills and building resilience. By challenging students to step outside of their comfort zones, teaching them to embrace failure as a learning opportunity, and providing them with resources and support, the program prepares students to become effective leaders who can thrive in the face of adversity. The 2022-2023 program wrapped up this past week; the Center will be recruiting students for the 2023-2024 academic year in August and September.

Learn More About RLA