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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An effective leader requires many different skill and qualities such as communication, motivation, listener, and organization in order to become a successful leader. Some leaders in my opinion who had these skills are Winston Churchill, Sir Alex Ferguson and Nelson Mandela. There are also other leaders who have been dictatorial, and forced their beliefs and ideology on others such as Adolf Hitler, Stalin. There are many other people who had many different skills and qualities. In my essay I am going to look closely at my skill and qualities in order to evaluate my own potential for leadership and draw conclusion based on this, which I hopefully will all be positive.
I would say that through different experiences, such as sport, school, family household and general life, I have learned and demonstrated various leadership skills. These experiences which I will cover in more depth are when I am a sport coach, school buddy and a team player.
The first leadership skill a sports coach requires is communication. Communication comes in different ways, such as verbal, written and visual demonstrations. A good coach will know when to use what style at the correct time and appropriate to the group they are working with. As I coach of a wide range of ages from 5 years to 16 years I need to be able to get my point across effectively. This has to be done in a great variety of ways. The different ways, I have to be starting from simple words and phrases for the younger children to more complex and technical phrases. This is the same when I would also apply doing visual demonstration. This has developed these two forms of communication for me and has helped me get my point across clearly, so much so that I have recently coached the mini handballer of 7-8years old and the Schools 5th and 6th year’s girls, both to national finals. As a coach I have to at times be dictatorial and tell what I need to do, this is not in a negative way which people would see the way that leaders like Hitler and Stalin did, mines is simply to get a point across which if people follow the instruction will help support and make them improve.
Following on from my first skill of communication, being a school buddy has taught me the skills of listening and motivating. Listening is a key skill as a phrase my dad keeps saying is “2 ears, one mouth” ,meaning listening is more important than talking, and everyday life you need to listen to understand what is being said or going on around you. Motivation is important when people are positive towards someone, and give them hope and belief then people can change their ways for the better. My example for these skills is when I helped to support and buddy, a pupil from the communication and support centre. The help I gave was to make secondary school a less frightening place for him and during interval and lunchtimes I had to support him by listening to his problems and challenges, which affected him due to change and masses of people, in coming to a bigger and new school in first year. Change was a big issue, and by having the same people around him, helped him settle into the school, then we had to look to make the school an enjoyable and exciting place ,so motivating to encouraging him to do things that he would not normal do, like going to school clubs both sport, and non-sporting sessions. The success came when he took part at the handball school championships whist he was in third year.
Another skill I have worked on and developing is the skill of planning. As a coach I have to plan every session and in more detail every exercise according to age and ability. To supplement the planning and to know that it has went well, and then I am also developing and improving my evaluation skills. Evaluation skills are when I review the session to see how well the session went in line with the planed activity. This aids me to develop the following week’s session and in that so that I know whether or not I recap what I have previously done. For example at a recent club session we done an exercise involving passing at the end of the session we evaluated it and found that there was too many mistakes so we repeated it the following week.
Finally the last leadership skill is whilst with in a team environment, the skill is being able to adapt to change. My experiences of change have come from my years of playing and learning handball. I have encountered many different coaches from several different countries and cultures and their interpretations of leadership. Each coach’s style of coaching varies some like you to be very physical in defence and other more around improving your technical ability. I found these coaches communication to coincide with the way they saw the game being played and where people should be looking to improve on like the defensive coach being very aggressive and the technical coach being a bit more laid back. At club level and abroad the coaches are a bit more laid back while the Great Britain coaches are a bit more aggressive due to them being more serious in their actions. The Swedish and German coaches that I have been coached by taught me that in particular when working with young children that we should make it a fun session with no aggression attached as there will be many mistakes made at that levels so you have to stay positive. This has taught me to accept change also away from sport like a change in head teacher or a different teacher for a subject.
Overall a leader as mention need, to have many different key skills, I believe that thou the famous leaders were successful because they had the correct skills and attitude for what was needed and knew when to apply it. I would like to hope that I have identified that I have learned many skills which I use, and as like successful leaders the appropriate skill for the correct situation system and hope i continue to develop these skills I will be a successful leader and at this moment during my coaching I would describe myself as a authoritarian leader with a touch of paternalistic leadership. I believe this because I need to give instructions and keep a close eye on what they are doing but also act proactive to make sure they don’t get hurt and in doing so gaining there trust.
In conclusion, in one of the skills I have developed through the course is evaluation, which I spoke of during the planning, but this essay is not about planning and is based around evaluation and I hope to have shown areas where I have recognised points that I have worked on, I know I still have many more to develop and only with constant evaluation of my leadership and everyday life will I improve as a person and a leader.