When faced with any iteration of the leadership question on MBA essays, many business school applicants freak out because they think they have to come up with an example that is their greatest life or professional achievement. In reality, it's not about grand gestures or formal leadership titles. The goal is leaving a footprint on whatever situation you're in and doing more than a good job.
Applicants need to think through their past experiences to find the episodes that best illustrate their leadership skills. Sometimes, the best examples are not the first that come to mind.
Your leadership essay will often be different from an "accomplishment" or "achievement" oriented essay. Just because you achieved something outstanding does not always mean leadership skills were involved, especially if you did most or all of the work.
[Learn how to strike the right tone in MBA essays.]
One of the central tenets of leadership essays is showing that you can galvanize the actions of other people. You bring out their passions. You educate them. You help them see organizational priorities in new ways. And then they share in the achievement.
The work of a leader activates or improves the work of others, so find anecdotes in your professional and extracurricular background that illustrate this kind of pattern.
What kind of experiences will make the best tales of leadership? Think about challenges where the following came into play:
• Identifying/defining a problem
• Resisting conventional approaches; challenging status quo
• Marshaling resources to address a problem
• Motivating others
• Making good use of others' talents
• Being open to new information and input
• Building consensus with appropriate stakeholders
• Guiding strong midcourse corrections; overcoming mistakes
• Building on success
[Get more tips on...