Building Resilience in MBA Students: Bouncing Back and Forward through Challenges
The raison d'être for MBA programs is to prepare students to lead and manage effectively in the real world. An overview of the unique challenges awaiting MBAs, however, reveals a blind spot in business education: It doesn’t necessarily prepare MBA students to operate effectively in the VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) world of today. This paper suggests that resilience training can help fill the void by enhancing the capacity of MBAs to bounce back and forward through and despite adversity. The objective of the paper is to propose a conceptual design of an evidence-based, relevant, and applicable Resilience Training Program for MBA students, building on research and practice in positive psychology and positive organizational scholarship. The proposed program seeks to enhance MBAs’ individual resilience from a 3-dimensional perspective of protecting, promoting, and sustaining mental health and well-being. Topics covered in the program include emotion regulation, cognitive flexibility, optimism, hope, positive emotions, character strengths, positive relationships, meaning-making, high-quality connections, and job crafting. Each of these topics is examined through a review of relevant research, practical implications, and specific interventions for building and strengthening related skills. This paper will hopefully serve MBA students and their business schools in shaping resilient leaders of the future.