2Minute GMAT

What Is Leadership?

If you’re applying to business school, you will need to find out the answer to this question immediately. Some MBA applications have specific questions asking you to explain your leadership experiences. While others don’t obviously include a “leadership” question, the best business school applications will include leadership stories in other essays on personal achievements, passions, etc.

Candidates need to think about their past to find the stories that best illustrate their leadership skills. Sometimes, the best examples are not the first that an individual will think of. Many candidates automatically bring up some of their greatest achievements as the best examples of leadership. However, this is not always the best way to write a strong leadership essay.

The fact that you achieved something outstanding does not necessarily mean that leadership skills were involved, particularly if you completed most of the work. The work of the leader improves and influences the work of others. You should find stories in your career and extracurricular history that illustrates this.

What kind of stories will make the best essays on leadership? To find this answer, you should remember challenges where the following were factors:

• Defining a challenge and problem

• Explaining a vision

• Innovating and challenging the status quo

• Persuading other individuals about why the problem matters

• Gathering resources to solve the problem

• Motivating others

• Utilizing the talent of others

• Being open to input from team members

• Building consensus

• Describing methods for other organizations to use

Make sure to remember that leadership is not only about titles. Some applicants build their leadership essays around the fact that they were selected for a specific position. Examples include editor of a newspaper, sorority president, V.P. of finance, etc. However, what did you do with that position of responsibility? An editor of a newspaper could discuss how she was constantly challenged to maintain great levels of excellence, manage team members, and hit deadlines. Define the challenges and obstacles that you faced, not the management challenges. Did you have to deal with a certain team member who lied?

Collecting important titles does not make an individual a great leader—helping a group overcome great obstacles does.

For more robust guidance on your MBA application essays, check out the Stacy Blackman Consulting Essay Guide Series – school specific guides with essay tips, sample essays, information on what your target schools value and more.

Visit http://www.stacyblackman.com/essay-guides/ to learn more.


Founded in 2001, Stacy Blackman Consulting has helped thousands of MBA applicants gain admission to the most selective business schools in the world.  The Stacy Blackman team, comprised of MBA graduates, former admissions officers and expert writers, editors and marketers, helps clients develop and implement a winning marketing strategy.  Stacy Blackman clients have a significantly increased probability of admission to top schools and are frequent recipients of merit scholarships.  The company is regularly featured in publications such as BusinessWeek, the Wall Street Journal and the Economist.   Visit the Stacy Blackman blog for daily news updates and admissions tips, and check out the company’s e-publications for more in depth school-by-school guidance.

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