I Knew I Wanted to Become a Better Leader. Here's How the Executive MBA Is Helping Me Do It.

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By Alecia Dillon, EMBA '20

I remember what drove me to pursue my Executive MBA from the Ross School of Business like it was yesterday.

It was New Year’s Day, and as I was writing down my annual goals and reflecting on the previous year, I had a moment of clarity that I was not living my best life. I was really just going through the motions of life on a somewhat successful trajectory, but not with real purpose or focus. I had recently taken on a new executive role for a team with long-term members significantly senior to myself. It was my responsibility to bring in more structure and change, which was naturally met with questioning and resistance from the team.

I had to get real and ask myself some serious questions: Who do I want to be and what legacy do I want to leave? What makes a great leader? How can I continue to develop myself and my team to become great leaders and leave a legacy? This is where things got interesting for me. I thought of about a million things that I have been taught about what leadership is, including what I learned from the posters in my middle school hallways, the ones with a bald eagle perched atop a branch overlooking a scenic mountain range (you know the type).  What I came to realize is the solution started with making positive changes in myself first, which was to continue my journey of self-development, continuous improvement, and lifelong learning by enrolling in the EMBA program at Michigan Ross. 

I wanted to learn and grow at a university that was not only home to the leaders and best in technical education, but takes learning to the next level of positive leadership development. The Ross EMBA program was my top choice for this very reason. The leadership coaching, as well as the Leadership Development Program classes that are part of the curriculum have significantly changed my leadership style and positively impacted my professional and personal life in more ways than I could have even imagined. 

My leadership coach, Lisa Morgan, is not only an extraordinary coach but an incredibly authentic and virtuous human being. Lisa was available and accessible to meet with me in any capacity I needed, mostly in person, but on the phone or web call as needed and at a time that was convenient for me every quarter during the program.

I appreciate how Lisa's raw coaching abilities dig at the essence of what really matters. She is supportive, has faith in me, and helped normalize my experience by sharing that others were having similar experiences and challenges, and that I am not alone in this tumultuous journey. 

She has helped me gain confidence in myself, my work, and, most importantly, has helped me recognize and grow my leadership style and skill set. Lisa is an amazing coach and I consider myself lucky to work with her and even luckier to be her friend.

Ultimately, the leadership development in the EMBA program helped me recognize the only way to drive change in your organization and on your team is to change yourself first by creating positive transformation from the inside out. By changing my approach to leadership, and becoming more vulnerable and authentic with my team, I can confidently say my team has seen the transformation I was hoping for and we are now a cohesive, thriving, successful tribe! 

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Alecia Dillon, EMBA '20