How to exhibit leadership in MBA essays and interviews:

Gauri Khatri

Gauri Khatri

Founder, Pegasus Global Consultants

Some of the most common questions asked during MBA interviews and leadership essays are: –


· How do you define your leadership Style?

· Share a leadership experience with us

· Circumstances positive/negative when you had to lead a team?

· How your leadership impacted your team (any positive experience to share)


These are some of the tough questions you will face during process of MBA interviews. This process can be tough, however, remember “when the going gets tough, the tough get going”. A perfect GMAT score and a 4.0 GPA is not a guarantee for getting into a business school of your choice. MBA admission teams are not looking for applicants they are looking for leaders. A clarity in thoughts is an impactful personal statement.


Let us break it down to three types of leadership:-


Team Leadership

This type of leadership is Straight forward and obvious. A one liner in the resume is enough to explain you are managing a team and successful team lead can always link his success with his team’s achievements. Important pointers to be considered: –

· Team Size managed

· Leadership style

· Team members specific achievement under your leadership (give mentorship examples, don’t take overall credit for success)


Note an MBA aspirant on an average has 4 to 5 years of work experience and may not have people reporting to them directly. Don’t let this dampen your MBA aspirations. Leadership has many facets to it. Let us review some other layers to leadership: –


Structural Leadership

Let’s say you are an analyst and contribute individually to a team, you do not manage a team. So, would that be a hurdle in your journey to a business school? The answer is No. Even if you do not have people reporting to you directly you can still showcase leadership skills by taking initiatives recognising your ability to walk that extra mile. Your efforts can term you as the second in command. It is important to highlight how you contributed by being a team player and undertaking extra responsibilities, sometimes as a senior member in a team you might be the catalyst between project head and other team members. In such a scenario even in individual capacity the impact is larger and adds credibility to your work ethics.


Strategic Leadership

The driving force behind this leadership is delivering individually with results that reflect positively on your team/project/organisations. Let’s understand this better with an example an investment professional develops a new optimiser for portfolio management. This individual effort helps other team members to run the portfolio well. This type of effort motivates and challenges other individuals to think, practice and deliver solutions.

As an applicant always remember authenticity stands out and every highlighted example in your essay is building a brand and taking you one step closer to your dream business school.

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