One way to blow your MBA essay on leadership is to talk about your leadership skills in general terms without providing examples or elaboration. When answering the leadership question, your goal should be three-fold: Identify your specific leadership traits, show examples of those attributes, and reveal the impact you had.
1. Identify Your Leadership Skills
First, look critically at your experiences. Can you think of instances in which you led people to action? In what ways did you motivate? Have there been situations when you’ve stood up, taken the reins, and won the trust of others? What steps did you take? What specific talents and qualities did you access to inspire and persuade? Don’t think about the broad term, “leadership”; focus on 1-3 of leadership’s sub-qualities: initiative, vision, integrity, empathy, listening, responsibility, reliability, planning, etc.
2. Show How You Lead
When detailing your leadership experiences, feel free to think outside the box…er, the office. Not every example needs to originate at work, and don’t concentrate solely on classic hierarchical situations with titles. Instead, consider less obvious examples, like inspiring your college cheerleading squad or coaching your brother’s Little League baseball team. Still drawing a blank? Have you ever initiated and organized a clothing drive? Managed a band? Led a fundraising initiative? Campaigned for a local politician? Strong leadership examples come in all shapes and sizes.
3. Reveal Your Impact
Top MBA programs want to admit people who make a difference, who leave a void when they depart. The recent outpouring of tribute to Steve Jobs at his resignation from Apple testifies to his super-sized contribution to his company, his industry, the world. You don’t have to reveal that kind of impact. However, the best way to show potential for significant impact in the future is to show you have contributed in the past. How did your leadership make a difference to individuals? To your organization? To your community? What was the impact of the experience on you? How did you grow from it?
These three elements comprise the essentials in a strong MBA leadership essay. Include all three to craft a winner. Leave one or two out, and well, you could be blowing it
By Linda Abraham, CEO and founder of Accepted.comand co-author of the soon-to released book, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools. Linda has been helping MBA applicants gain acceptance to top MBA programs since 1994.
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What Makes a Good Leader
There are many different styles of leadership and the majority of them are very effective, but despite these different approaches, all good leaders share a handful of characteristics. So, what are these qualities that make a good leader? We are going to take a closer look at some of them including good communication, the ability to delegate and a strong level of commitment to see how these qualities can help to make someone a good leader.
One of the most important characteristics of a good leader is that they need to actually be prepared to lead. This sounds like something that should go without saying, but it is surprising just how many people who are in a leadership role are not prepared to take an active role in leading their team. A good leader does not sit back and observe what is going on, but rather they should be the one making the decisions and making sure that the rest of the team sees them through. You must have the self-confidence to stand by such decisions when you are sure that you are right. However, if you do happen to be wrong you must also own your mistakes and come up with an alternative plan in the event of failure. Your subordinates should be comfortable looking to you for guidance and for that to happen you must take an active role in leadership.
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While it is important for leaders to be hands on and have an active role in leadership, a good leader must also know when to delegate! It is essential that you are able to trust your team to execute your vision. This means allowing them to get involved with various aspects of your plans. Delegating tasks to other people or departments is a very important skill for a leader to have. In order to delegate effectively, you must be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of those on your team so that you can allocated tasks accordingly. This will free up your own time for higher level tasks.
The best leaders are also those who excel when it comes to communication. It is essential for a leader to be able to communicate effectively with everyone on the team at all times. You need to be able to think things through and consider what information is available to others on your team. Are you providing them with all of the relevant information that is needed to accomplish the tasks that they have been set? A good leader must also make sure that he or she not only communicates the appropriate information to the team, but also that everyone understands it. Great leaders are able to communicate in a way that others can engage with. This makes it easier for others to understand what you are saying and to remember it! When your team has a clear understanding not only of the end goal, but also how to achieve it, you will find that your efforts run much more smoothly.
A good leader must also show a commitment to his or her team. You cannot expect to motivate others to put in their best efforts if you yourself are not leading by example. The best motivation for many people is seeing their boss right there working just as hard as everyone else. This demonstrates your commitment to your team and is a sure fire way to inspire their loyalty. It is great if you can not only prove that you work hard, but also that you are fair and do not expect anything of your team that you are not willing to do yourself! A positive attitude will also go a long way to showing your commitment to your role as a leader.
In conclusion, there are many different characteristics that make a good leader. There are a variety of different approaches to leadership, but those who succeed in their leadership role are very likely to exhibit the characteristics that we have discussed her. A good leader has commitment and a positive attitude, knows how to delegate, can communicate effectively and is prepared to actively lead a team.