When MBA Applicants are asked to write about conflicts and how they resolved it, they confuse conflicts with challenges. We have faced both in a professional environment, but challenges are more frequent in our daily work schedule. Learning about accounting is a challenge for someone new to the job but learning about accounting in two weeks or risk losing the job is a conflict – not with another person but oneself.
Here are three categories of conflicts that are worth mentioning in an MBA Application Essay:
1) Individual Conflict
This is the most common conflict seen in an organization. When a team is constituted, the members are not consulted to check work compatibility. Therefore, you have members who are polar opposite in temperament and work ethics. On one hand, you have the last-minute magicians, who wait two days until the deadline for finishing the work, and on the opposite spectrum, you have the diligent ‘Tom’, who never leaves the office without cutting off the to-do list.
Most professionals come somewhere in between with different levels of discipline. In a team environment, collaboration is unavoidable, and when the last-minute magician consults ‘Tom’ for support, conflicts emerge. Lack of respect is evident in each other’s conversation, and other team members are forced to pick sides. Even the ones who choose not to get involved are categorized in implicit groups and sub-groups.
Politics and ego clashes act as a distraction for the team and threaten to derail the group objective. Only a Manager who understands Group Dynamics and personal conflicts can lead the team back to the group objective. The rest are firefighting in a lost cause. I am sure you have been part of such teams if you have worked for at least three years, an average that schools expect you to have. How did you handle the individual conflicts? Were you a protagonist in one such conflict? Was it work ethics, opposing ideas or ego clash? Even if you played a mediator in one such conflict or led a team with conflicting personalities, include examples of real conflict. Your negotiation and communication skills are measured when you cite Individual conflict.
2) Organizational Conflict
Tom was a superstar in a start-up environment. The company had a flat organization structure. There were no three layers of Managers supervising Tom, and he had the freedom to think creatively, and apply solutions that met his standards. The deadlines were clearly defined, and performance rewarded but there was no established framework to complete each task. ‘Project owners’ were responsible for the product. The environment was inefficient but fueled creativity, and led to greater retention of employees. Two of their primary needs were satisfied – autonomy and performance-based incentives.
As Tom delivered one creative solution after the other, he wondered what it felt like working for an established brand. The social currency of being part of a bigger brand and the privilege of titles tempted him to switch jobs. He did. The charm of the new job lasted for two weeks. The autonomy was lacking. Every step was scrutinized, and quality guidelines enforced. Being employee #212 who completed task A did not have the same charm as the ‘Project Owner’ in a start-up environment.
Most of you will come under either of the two categories – a start-up creative or a traditional professional. The characteristics merge in some cases but broadly, you will be categorized in of the two buckets. There is no right or wrong in this case. If both the professionals can achieve organizational objectives, the diversity of working style does not matter but conflicts arise when the adjustment takes time, and inefficiencies start affecting the output. What were the conflicts that arose when you moved from one type of organization to another (start-up to established or established to start-up)?
Did you try to change the systems in that organization? For someone coming from an established company – did you set up a framework so that tasks were completed efficiently? For someone coming from a start-up environment, did you tweak the rules of the project so that greater autonomy was granted to team members? Most conflicts are solved when such corrective measures are taken, and the adjustment is not looked down as a skill deficiency.
3) Internal Conflict
If you have worked in an investment bank, the internal conflict will be something that you might have experienced first-hand. You might not have experienced Jordon Belfort like scam but once in a while, you might have been forced to dump a complex product on the unsuspecting pensioner. Did you take the extra effort to inform the pensioner about the risks of the financial instrument or did you wing the responsibility to some other colleague who most likely skipped that information?
Most internal conflicts come from moral dilemmas on decisions that are unethical in any Business environment – lack of information, misinformation, or exaggerations. Marketing is one form of exaggeration but did you exaggerate information that eventually led to misinformation? Did your boss ask you take an unethical decision? How did you manage it? Did you obey the command? Did you resist it, and risked getting fired? Or did you use your persuasion skills to convince the Boss that there was a third solution? The risk of getting fired offers a better narrative when you are writing about Internal conflict in an Essay. Persuasion skills will impress the AdCom but not to the same extent.
Other forms of Internal Conflict arise when the risk of losing ‘the job’ is explicit, and you have to perform. Your personal growth and job retention depends on your performance. Did you develop the new skills within the deadline? Whom did you ask for help? How was the learning experience? What techniques and personal skills did you use to overcome this challenge? Overcoming challenge in this scenario is just a reaction to the Internal Conflict.
Sample Essays + Essay Writing, Review & Editing Tips + 15 School-Specific Tips = Winning MBA Essay Guide
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Only 1 in 900 gains admission to Harvard MBA program. If you write your essay focused only on your achievements, post-MBA goals, and your pre-MBA experience, you will be among the 899 rejected applicants.
ATTENTION is the secret ingredient. How will you get the attention of the essay reviewer?
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Winning MBA Essay Guide Includes
+Harvard MBA Essay Tips (2020 Entering Class) (NEW)
Sample Harvard MBA Essay – Gratitude & Giving Back (318 Words)
Sample Harvard MBA Essay – Entrepreneurship (Influence of Childhood) (667 Words)
Sample Goals Essay 1: Enterprise Technology to Consumer Marketing (496 Words)
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Sample Columbia MBA Leader I admire Essay #1 (Elon Musk) (250 Words)
Sample Columbia MBA Leader I admire Essay #2 (Father) (244 Words)
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Sample Why Stanford MBA Essay (Tech Entrepreneur) (390 words)
Sample Booth MBA Essay #2: Leadership experience (Teach for America)(640 Words)
+ MIT Sloan MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
Personality Type (Accepted MIT Sloan Students)
Cover Letter Checklist
Sample Essay 3: Extra-Curricular and How enriched you are
+ Haas MBA Essay Tips (2018 Entering Class)
Sample MBA Essay: Non-Profit
Sample MBA Essay: Technology
Sample MBA Essay: Marketing
Sample MBA Essay: Getting Fired
Sample MBA Essay: Diverse and Inclusive Culture
Sample MBA Essay: Leadership
Sample MBA Essay: Post-MBA Goal & How Pre-MBA Experience will help
+ Yale SOM MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
Sample Yale SOM MBA Essay: Business Development (Mobile Start-Up)(486 Words)
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Sample Yale SOM MBA Essay: Consulting (442 Words)
Sample Yale SOM MBA Essay: Technology (452 Words)
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+ Ross MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
Sample MBA Essay: Finance Professional who was a former member of a rock band (96 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Marketing Professional with a hidden talent to do Impression (100 Words)
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Sample MBA Essay: I am aware that I am different (Leadership and Culture) (98 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: I am aware that I am different (Technology Project and Last-minute change) (98 Words)
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Sample MBA Essay: I find it Challenging when People (Timidity)(98 Words)
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+ London Business School MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
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Sample Short-term Goals Essay – Technology to Consulting (100 Words)
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Framework for Answering the Duke Fuqua 25 Random Things
Sample Duke Fuqua Essay: The Fuqua community and you (Max 2 Pages)
+ NYU Stern MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
Sample NYU Stern Essay 1: Goals (498 Words) (Finance)
5 Examples with Images
7 Professional Gains
Sample Wharton MBA Essay 1: Gain professionally from the Wharton MBA? (473 words)
Sample Wharton MBA Essay #2: Math Tutoring and Experimental music’s value (388 Words)
+ The Art of Storytelling
+ Leadership Narratives
+ Review Tips
+ Persuasion Strategies
+ The Secret to "unleashing" your unique voice
+ How to write about your Strengths
+ How to write about your Weaknesses