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.
Our Series On Perfecting Your MBA Essays:
An essay gives you the chance to demonstrate and explore a particular subject to convince the reader that you can present a logical essay. A well-written essay requires a good knowledge about the topic, meaning that you need to do extensive research on the topic. It is necessary to find evidence that will support your essay claim to convince the reader’s. Leadership being a broad topic gives the writer the opportunity to explore many ideas. A good essay needs to start with an introduction, the introductory paragraph needs to address what is to be covered in the essay, in this case, its leadership.
Essay on leadership at times may require the writer to reflect on how he has demonstrated some of the leadership traits in the past. The writer needs to organize his thoughts before deciding what to write. Even if you have not worked in any organization, you can talk about your experience at the family level or as part of a volunteer group when reflecting about your leadership experiences. Once you identify the area of focus, you can start organizing the essay according to the essay standards with the introduction, the body paragraphs, and the conclusion. It is important to develop an essay outline that will guide you when writing the essay.
How to start
A professional essay introduction needs to presents the topic to be discussed using descriptive words that will attract the reader’s attention within the first sentence. To develop a good essay on leadership, using your personal experience will grab the reader’s attention, alternatively, you can start with a hook by mentioning a great leader from history who has inspired many people.
The writer can sue her experiences. The introduction needs to grab the reader’s attention the paragraph should contain three to four sentence introducing the topic. An essay introduction needs to include a thesis statement. A thesis statement is one sentence that describes leadership.
Example of introduction:
“Leadership is a common term that is easy to describe but can be difficult to implement, leaders can be found everywhere including our families, among friends, at work or within the community. To be a good leader, one needs to possess certain characteristics, which I have come to learn through experience. Having experienced one of the worst catastrophes, I discovered what it meant to be a leader. Having been left alone at home with my younger siblings when the floods swept our house, I realized that as a leader I need to make allot of sacrifices to ensure that everyone is safe.”
How to write the body
The body paragraphs of an essay contain three main paragraphs, with each section elaborating on the topic. The body paragraph contains examples and evidence to justify the essay claim. When describing the main points of the essay the points should be given a new paragraph. At the beginning of each paragraph the reader need to be able to relate it with previous paragraphs; therefore, transitional words will help to enable the essay flow.
Each body paragraph needs to have a topic sentence that links the program to the main theme of the essay. Each of the body paragraphs needs to present a different argument about leadership and evidence to support why the topic is of interest. The first body section should contain strong argument supported by examples, which should be at least five sentences long.
A good essay body needs to use anecdotes that will boost the argument. For example, if the thesis sentence emphasizes on qualities of a good leader the essay body needs to provide example of some of the important traits of leaders and how it impacts on the organization. In the body paragraphs, use the information gathered during research to justify some of the leadership qualities .The body paragraphs need to have transition sentences for the readers to easily connect the essay ideas. The information gathered and some of the leadership experiences can help develops the body of the essay.
Example of body paragraphs:
First body paragraph
“There are many different leadership styles, despite the different leadership approaches, leaders are common characteristics. One of the most important features of a good leader is being prepared to leader. A good leader needs to have adequate experience and knowledge to have confidence in leading people. It is not surprising to find many people who are in leadership, but are not prepared to take active role in leading people.”
Second body paragraph
“Being prepared to be a leader requires a set of skills, the best leaders are those who embrace open communication and encourage feedbacks. Leaders need to communicate effectively for everyone to understand what is expected of him. A good leader needs to be patient and thinks through before making any decision. To be a good leader means to think analytically by reviewing the whole situation before making any conclusions. It is equally important for leaders to build trust among his followers, this will enable them to feel part of the team.”
Third body paragraph
“A leader requires more skill than just communication, a good leader is one that is open minded, meaning that he is open to change. This is one of the most difficult characteristics leaders want to adopt. Most leaders feel that they have adequate knowledge hence they know everything. Accepting changes for some people would mean being incompetent. However, an effective leader needs to embrace changes to avoid resistance among the subordinates.”
How to conclude
Conclusion if the last paragraph in an essay, meaning this is the last chance for you to convince the reader about the topic. A good conclusion should rephrase the thesis statement at the same time summarize the main essay points that supported the essay claim .The conclusion ties up the whole essay, therefore, it should reinforce the thesis statement, but not introduce any new ideas that were not part of the main points discussed in the essay. Since the conclusion presents the final remarks, the author needs to persuade the target audience why the issues need their attention .Therefore persuasive language needs to be applied in the concluding paragraphs to have resounding ideas that will give the readers something to think about after reading the essay.
Example of conclusion for a laws of life essay:
“There are many characteristics that make a good leader. However, leaders who succeed unique exhibit characteristics like having a positive outlook towards the situation and being open minded. A good leader needs to have good communication skills and should exercise patience before making any decisions. Leadership is about being ready to lead people by taking appropriate action.”
Example of Outline
- Hook: overview of leadership and your leadership experience
- Thesis statement
First body paragraph
- Discussing leadership: qualities of a good leader
Second body paragraph
- Characteristics of a good leader
- Having experience and knowledge to have confidence in leading people
Third body paragraph
- Being open minded
- Having good communication skills
- Rephrasing of thesis statement to call for action
- Summary of qualities of a good leader