When you are writing your MBA Application Essays, don’t just randomly write about your leadership experience. Instead, check whether your experience falls within the four leadership examples that the MBA Admission team is expecting.
Four Examples of Leadership – MBA Application Essays
1) Handling Constraints
Leadership roles come with constraints - small budget, limited human resource, lack of motivation, lack of trust in your leadership (your first project as a leader), or a culture that believes in the status quo. How you navigate the constraints with a clear strategy will highlight your leadership skills.
Focusing on goals despite constraints has been written to death, but a different way to write about goals is to differentiate between survival and growth goals. In any project, there are Minimum viable performance indicators – minimum number of sales, minimum acceptable feature list, the minimum number of marketing channels to propagate your brand message or minimum number of prospects you approach before a sale.
Whatever job function you might have led, communicating survival goals is key to motivating the team.
We as individuals are easily distracted. When we are stressed, the tendency to seek distraction is at the highest. This is the time when we need a leader to guide us towards one unifying goal. Explain how you guided your team towards that ‘one’ goal. If you are writing about budget constraints, demonstrate how you asked the team to focus on that ‘one feature’ that allowed a sign off for the first phase of the project.
2) Handling Dynamic Goals
If you have worked in the service industry, meeting the demands of an overbearing client might have been wrongly equated as “the Customer is always right”. Many Businesses accommodate outrageous demands, which mean that as a team leader, you don’t have much of a choice. Accepting new requirements involve changing your plan dynamically, and in some cases, during the very last week of the project. Motivating a team who does not believe in changing scope of the project randomly has to be one of the toughest jobs for a leader.
How do you motivate a team in such scenarios?
If you were open about the reasons for the change in goals, explain how the conversation worked. Either the client was unaware of the project complexities, or there were no clear change management processes. In any case, openness about the problem and the corrective measures you have taken (setting up rules for accepting changes/accommodating time for unplanned goals) will push the team to pursue the unexpected goals.
3) Accountability beyond Responsibility
Accountability is often associated with fear – the fear of getting fired, fear of losing your position when revenue targets are not met and fear of innovation. Teams are not empowered when innovation that led to missed goals are met with punishments? For leaders, accountability is about owning the output of the team. This means that as a leader you were responsible for defining roles, assigning tasks, motivating each team member to own the task and a general sense that you are responsible for the team – both their strengths and weaknesses. The team will follow through when you give them complete autonomy and empower them to find the solution within the target deadline.
Accountability is about continuous improvement. It comes from a culture where feedback is accepted without prejudice or judgment. Teams accept weaknesses when they are honest. That can happen if the leader is not judgmental but encourages the philosophy that no one is perfect, and needs time to master their skills.
An emotional reaction that clouds the team’s problem-solving skills will not solve the complexities of the project, but an environment that encourages open debate, collaboration, and peer learning will certainly do. Leaders create such environment.
4) Motivating team After Failure
Morale of a team affects productivity and collaboration. Keeping the motivation of the team high is not a task reserved for setbacks. Even after the team meets a seemingly impossible milestone, leaders have a way of keeping the hunger alive. From a personality point of view, motivating the team after failure requires a higher emotional intelligence and understanding that dominant individuals influence the psyche of the team. Influencing the pack leaders within the team require strategies that are tailor-made for that type of personality.
Facing failure has been discussed with two approaches – be stoic or be empathetic.
A stoic leader will not be surprised by success or failures. Successes are stepping stones to greater legacy, and failures are stepping stones for greater challenges. The problem with stoic leaders is that, the high, that teams experience when they meet a milestone will be missing, but at the same time, the lows that they expect to feel when the goals are not reached would also not impact the team. A sense of duty/professionalism is driving the team towards action.
An empathetic leader shifts the focus to a recent success and looks for life lessons from the failure.
An ideal leader is a mix of two – empathetic enough not to be critical/negative about the team, and stoic enough to openly discuss the problems they overlooked. By maintaining the balance, failure becomes another event and not a feedback on the team’s character.
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?
You know why parables shared 1000 years ago are still shared among us?
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Winning MBA Essay Guide Includes
+Harvard MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
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Sample Columbia MBA Essay #3 - Team Failure (Pharma) (244 Words)
+ MIT Sloan MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
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Cover Letter Checklist
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+ 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
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+ Yale SOM MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
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+ Ross MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
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+ London Business School MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
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+ NYU Stern MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
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5 Examples with Images
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+ 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