Leadership and Teamwork
Business schools assess leadership and team skills in applicants very keenly. Some schools may include direct questions asking you to narrate your leadership and teamwork experiences. Other schools that don't ask these questions directly assess you on these skills through the experiences you share through the various essays you write. If these are indeed your strength areas you would bring them up in your essays anyway is the assumption they work with.
You demonstrate leadership when:
a. you show initiative to improve things around you: solve problems, correct old processes and setup new ones.
b. you convince others of the effectiveness of your novel ideas and remove obstacles in implementation, you overcome opposition to your ideas too.
c. you lead a team of people to achieve a difficult task, you motivate team members to contribute to the task, include their opinions, and bring together dissenting voices.
Stories of leadership on the lines suggested here become the most decisive parts of your application. They turn that admission decision in your favor.
Identify such experiences, use them to answer the direct questions on leadership, or to substantiate points you make in other essays.
The most effective leadership story is one where you identify problems in an existing way of doing things, conceive a better way, persuade others to accept you way, overcome obstacles on the path of execution, and deliver a great result.
Just because you work in teams or lead teams doesn’t mean you are a good team player. To prove that you are, you would need to recall examples from your experience where you handled what are considered as the normal pitfalls of teamwork. These are described below.
Often in teamwork individual goals don’t align with team goals. If you were placed in a project you weren’t interested in how did you place team objectives over personal goals?
Teamwork generates conflicts. People have different ideas and they wish to do things differently. When you confronted such a situation how did you bring dissenting voices together?
In the best performing teams, team members share clarity of purpose. How did you create such clarity when you found lack of it hindering team process?
Also in teamwork, roles and objectives have to be clearly defined. When roles overlapped and goals were not clear, how did you organize the effort?
Share examples on these lines. Avoid examples where you arranged an out of office dinner or picnic and everyone because of it became ideal team players the next day. Get real. If a team member or a group of them are not contributing, the team outing is going to do little. Perspectives will change and realizations will hit when the real reason behind the problems are addressed and this often happens at the work place.
You will identify the ideal story to narrate team skills when you recall your good team experiences, where teamwork created a great result.
Not many applicants help admissions committees judge their ability to effectively work with others. A good team experience is an ideal way to show your people skills. Among the various stories you will include in the essays also include one that brings out your team skills.
Chapter 1: Achievements
Chapter 2: Career Goals and Career Progress
Chapter 4: Unique applicant
Chapter 5: Weaknesses, setbacks and failures
Chapter 6: Why MBA? Why XYZ school?
Chapter 7: Miscellaneous issues