Rebecca Beagan’s Transformative Journey

February 15, 2013

By Janet Max

“Do you happen to know of any research opportunities for undergraduates this summer?” In 2011, the answer led Rebecca Beagan (BBA 2013) on a journey she says, “changed my life forever.” At Lynn Wooten’s urging, Rebecca applied for the 2011 POS Summer Fellows Program at the Center for Positive Organizational Scholarship; she was accepted, and worked with Professor Wooten. The experience helped Rebecca develop her project management skills and contributed to her understanding of diversity and social justice, and informed her work as a then-new resident advisor at the largest all-freshmen dorm on the University of Michigan campus.

Rebecca also participated in weekly lunches with other POS Summer Fellows, each hosted by a different Center for POS faculty member. Rebecca was deeply affected by an exercise assigned by Robert Quinn at one of those lunches:

  1. Think of and write down the 10 best experiences of your life.
  2. Do the same for the 10 worst experiences of your life.
  3. How do these 20 experiences, the best and the worst, uniquely prepare you to make a difference, to have impact, to lead?

At the time, Rebecca was dealing with the aftermath of a period of her life punctuated by grief and loss. And now Professor Quinn was putting a whole new lens on the consideration of her experiences that allowed her to see an opportunity to relate to others. “This broadened to realizing that all experiences—happy, frustrating, those filled with grief—if embraced, explored, and reflected upon can create powerful ways to connect with others.”

Now a senior, the ideas and concepts Rebecca began embracing as a POS Summer Fellow are part of her DNA. Her connection with the Center for POS has continued to be transformative, in both directions—in her latest role, she has energetically expanded our social media presence, including creating our Facebook page and Twitter feed; she hopes to see the Facebook page reach 1,000 likes by May, when she graduates.

Rebecca counts these concepts among the most powerful POS ideas she will take with her:

  • High-Quality Connections (HQC): Jane Dutton’s work on the importance of building HQC through being present for people, task-enabling, engaging in play, and trust is applied daily by Rebecca. Task-enabling is critical to her job as resident staff coordinator, where she serves as liaison and a staff resource for 42 RA’s, to her role as advisor and manager of the staff council, and for her responsibilities as RA to 52 residents, designing educational programming and providing a good transition to college life.
  • Fundamental State of Leadership (FSL): Robert Quinn’s concept is pivotal to Rebecca’s vision of leadership, and she recites by heart the four transformative questions: Am I results centered? Am I internally directed? Am I other focused? Am I externally open?
  • Reflected Best Self Exercise™ (RBSE™): Rebecca cites the importance of recognizing your strengths and how your strengths are perceived by others, as well as leveraging and focusing on your strengths. She notes that this concept translates not just from one person, but to a team or an organization or business.

After graduation, Rebecca Beagan will join Roland Berger Strategy Consultants as a junior consultant.Click here for Rebecca’s April 2012 essay for the Ross Leadership Initative on her 2011 POS Summer Fellowship.