Rotary Youth Leadership Awards

RYLA is a week-long experiential leadership program, aimed at empowering the next generation of leaders to achieve great things. The program is designed around a reflectively experiential approach to leadership, employing the abstraction of ‘ERLA’ to assist the participants through their journey, which is an abbreviation for: Experience, Reflection, Learning, Action (ERLA). This concept is continually reinforced throughout the course of the week. It is also steeped in academia, particularly in its liken to David Kolb’s work (1984), which conceptualises learning as a four-phase continuous cycle: Concrete Experience, Reflective Observation, Abstract Conceptualisation and Active Experimentation (Figure 1). This learning process, in other forms, has been referred to the ‘Plan-Do-Check-Act’ model, or the ‘Experience-Reflection-Conceptualise-Test’ model.

The ERLA concept is continually recycled for participants throughout the RYLA experience, and the week itself also acts as a standalone experience for future reflection and development. Two of the key objectives of RYLA are: 1) To empower and equip the next generations of leaders to be the best version of themselves that they can be; and 2) To provide a challenging, engaging, and safe environment for participants to try, test, apply and enable their own learning and development. Many researchers have attempted to synthesise the intricacies and nuances of leadership (eg: Avolio et al. 2009; Busse 2014; Jackson & Parry 2011; Northouse 2015); however, the resulting array of theories & conceptualisations are quite frankly diverse, convoluted, and in some instances inconsistent (Alveeson & Spicer 2012). What the discourse does agree on is the fact that leadership is inherently difficult and complex. Yet it is the capstone that is necessary in any successful business, and it is the fuel behind a highly effective and productive team. The environment created by RYLA, particularly resulting from the ERLA methodology, is one which can facilitate this learning for each individual, and can create a successful and beneficial leadership learning experience.