What is the first image that comes into your mind when you think about leadership? For me it is someone who inspires a large crowd to listen carefully, and act decisively. Most likely, the action is not routine and require you to come out of your comfort zone. When Gandhi inspired Indians to protest against the tax laws of the British, he was not asking them to like a post or re-tweet a ‘thought’. He was asking millions of Indians to join a 240-mile march from Ahmedabad to Dandi in protest against the salt taxes, and violate the British Law by producing Salt in the coastal town of Navsari. The march in 1930 was the pre-cursor to India’s independence movement.
When MBA Admissions team asks you to write about leadership, one quality that they actively seek in a candidate is courage. Unfortunately, applicants tend to devalue their moment of courage as a routine action, and in many of our interactions with applicants, we have found it to be true. To figure out the moment of courage in your professional and personal life, we have shortlisted three qualities that define ‘courage’.
We have an instinctual bias towards people who act, not the ones who talk. The stereotypes of car salesmen, the fake evangelists, and politicians, all encapsulates one characteristic - “all talk no action.” With shortening of words, essays have become the most planned part of the MBA application process. For an interview, you prepare but most of the conversation with the interviewer is after all ‘conversation’, not a monologue.
When the thoughts are flowing in one direction, you are guessing what the admissions committee is thinking. Offer context on the circumstances under which you acted, but spend most of your writing on action. Using the action verbs means use of the word “I” in plenty – a pattern that can decrease the readability of the essay, and even makes you look less of a team player. A trick that has worked for our applicants is the ‘mix’ approach where they rewrite the essays to offer context, as actions take place, a style that makes your narrative interesting.
What action did you take when confidence in you as a leader was low?
What action did you take when your plan failed?
What action did you take to do the course correction?
What action did you take to motivate the team?
What action did you take to jump-start the project?
Action means perpetual motion, and as readers, we get hooked to narratives that ask us to imagine movement.
Your narrative will not inspire the admission team if all you do is write about perpetual motion. You are not a mad man running around the block; you overcame the biggest demon: fear. Public speaking is not our #1 fear. If you read the research papers carefully, our ‘Fear of Failure’ is the underlying cause even in public speaking. What motivated you to overcome this cardinal fear should inspire the readers. The Admission team has read about inspiring account of overcoming obstacles, but unless you can express your true fears and make the reviewers believe in your anxieties, your leadership qualities will never get reflected in the essays. Courage by definition means overcoming your fear, and acting.
For Career Switchers, changing careers seem the most obvious reason for pursuing an MBA program, but don’t make it sound like an obvious choice. Let the AdCom feel how tough that decision was. It takes courage to leave a secure, comfortable decently paid job to a risky – possible good career with an MBA. It is not easy sacrificing 1-year preparing for the admission process – GMAT, Essays, and Interviews. Many applicants leave this part out assuming that leaving secure jobs is a normal behavior.
What was the biggest fear that you overcame: Fear of Failure, Death, Ridicule, Rejection, Loneliness, or Losing Freedom?
Overcoming fear is the first step, but if the action is not risky, your actions are not inspiring. Risk taking from your perspective will be different from what the Admission team perceives. Before you second guess what risk taking means for the admission team, remember the one element of risk taking – change. If you are not changing your strategies, your beliefs, or your actions, there is no risk. The change without any higher stakes also does not mean risk. When you accept that your previous actions or strategies have failed, and take action out of your comfort zone, you are showing traits of a leader who is willing to take the risk. For the applicants who are too scared even to mention one real failure, risk taking after failure is a context that has worked for MBA applicants. Learn how to use that narrative in your MBA Application Essays.
To demonstrate Courage in Leadership, follow this pattern:
Overcoming Fear -> Risk-Taking -> Action
Unless you can connect the three dots, your courage under crisis will not be captured in the essays. Learn how to highlight your leadership in MBA Application Essays. If you need assistance rewriting your essays, subscribe to our essay review service.
Sample Essays + Essay Writing, Review & Editing Tips + 15 School-Specific Tips = Winning MBA Essay Guide
"Pressed against the deadline, I ordered F1GMAT's Winning MBA Essay Guide as their blogs always had something interesting to say. It was by far one of the best decisions I have made in my life. Going through the Essay Guide, I learned the art of storytelling, using various ploys mentioned in the book. Most important one being the “W pattern,” a strategy of information sharing that creates a sense of excitement in the mind of the reader." - MIT Sloan MBA Candidate
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?
You know why parables shared 1000 years ago are still shared among us?
Yes, the art of storytelling has won presidency for Obama, transformed Apple from an unknown start-up to a brand synonymous with Quality, and gained admission for the average MBA Applicant.
F1GMAT's Winning MBA Essay guide will teach you how to transform your essay to an epic life journey with trials and tribulations that will move the admission team.
Who Should Buy The Winning MBA Essay Guide?
If your essay looks too bland, our Winning MBA Essay Guide will show you, with examples, on how to use the elements of Storytelling like Incorporating "The Struggle", Using Emotional connectors, narrating the Journey and the use of Chronology, Vividness and Active Verbs to transform your essays.
If you are stuck in the Writing process, our Winning MBA Essay Guide will show you how to silence the Analytic Mind and overcome mental blocks.
If you feel that the essays are not persuasive, our Winning MBA Essay Guide will teach you how to use the W-Pattern narrative, Contexts, Turning Points and "The Show Don't Tell Approach" to write a Winning MBA Essay.
If you don't have enough leadership experience, our Winning MBA Essay Guide will show you how to highlight non-obvious qualities like Trust, Focus, Listening Skills, Personal Responsibility, Humility, Self-Knowledge, and other secondary traits to prove your leadership.
If you don't know how to review your essays, our Winning MBA Essay Guide will demonstrate how to improve readability with the power of iteration, and maintain your original voice by removing review biases.
Winning MBA Essay Guide Includes
+Harvard MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
Sample MBA Essay – Gratitude & Giving Back (319 Words)
Sample MBA Essay – Entrepreneurship (Influence of Childhood) (401 Words)
Sample Harvard MBA Essay - Volunteering (Mental Health Awareness) (774 Words)
+ Stanford MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
Sample Why Stanford MBA Essay (Consulting)(399 words)
Sample Why Stanford MBA Essay (Tech Entrepreneur) (390 words)
Sample Booth MBA Essay #2: Leadership experience (Teach for America)(640 Words)
Sample Columbia MBA Essay 2: New York for Marketing Professionals (244 Words)
Sample Columbia MBA Essay #3 - Team Failure (Marketing Lead) (242 Words)
Sample Columbia MBA Essay #3 - Team Failure (Technology) (248 Words)
Sample Columbia MBA Essay #3 - Team Failure (Pharma) (244 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)
Sample Yale SOM MBA Essay: Investment Banking (IB)(404 Words)
Sample Yale SOM MBA Essay: Consulting (442 Words)
Sample Yale SOM MBA Essay: Technology (452 Words)
Sample Yale SOM MBA Essay: Marketing (492 Words)
Sample Yale SOM MBA Essay: Entrepreneurship (497 Words)
+ 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)
Sample MBA Essay: Life Philosophy through the prism of an Entrepreneurial failure (94 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Consulting for a Pharma Giant (Made a Difference) (91 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Three-Level Sanitation Campaign (100 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Water Conservation Kit (99 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Losing client (100 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Misreading Market Conditions (93 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Strategic Planning vs. Tactical Dominance in Chess (97 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Out of my comfort zone(extra-curricular) (93 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Out of my comfort zone (Daily Science Show) (99 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Simplifying Operations for Manufacturing (extra-curricular) (90 Words)
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)
Sample MBA Essay: I am aware that I am different (Making Business metrics relevant to a Creative team) (91 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: I find it Challenging when People (Timidity)(98 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: I find it Challenging when People (Laziness)(100 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: I find it Challenging when People (Pessimism) (96 Words)
Sample Essay – Short-term Goals and why the goal is the right choice for you (Technology to Marketing)(299 Words)
+ London Business School MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
London as the Financial Hub
London as the Technology Hub
London as the Consulting Hub
Sample LBS MBA Essay (A Career Switcher from Hospitality to Consulting) (499 Words)
Sample Short-term Goals Essay – Technology to Consulting (100 Words)
Sample Long-term Goals Essay – Consulting for Government (100 Words)
Sample Long-term Goals Essay – Plan B (89 Words)
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