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2009年7月份,我给一个老朋友(Simon FT-MBA,2010春季班)为申请MBA而写的Essay提了几点比较关键的修改建议。后来,她成功拿到Simon的Offer。再后来,她建议我做留学DIY咨询方面的工作,并向我介绍了我的第一个客户。最终,我的第一个客户也成功拿到几个TOP16商学院的面试并顺利拿到Duke Fuqua商学院MBA的录取。 本人毕业于上海复旦大学管理学院国际企业管理系,属于商科科班出身并且做过管理工作、有领导经验的人士。

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资料分享:Leadership in Admissions (Linda Abraham, 1/2)  

2017-03-25 05:12:18|  分类: PS/Essay/简历/推 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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资料分享:Leadership in Admissions (Linda Abraham, 1/2)

 

 

Introduction

 

Leadership comes in all shapes and sizes, and the admissions committees at the top graduate programs are alert to all the variations and permutations. In this admissions guide, a collection of past blog posts and articles, I’ll take you through the ins and outs of writing about leadership for your application essays, including the different types of leadership and the clichés you should avoid.

 

If you learn only one concept in this report (and I do hope that you gain much more than that), it should be that leadership is not a general and overarching term, but an exemplary attribute with breadth, depth, and power to move mountains—even if done in such small steps that at first the movement appears trivial. You are all leaders in one way or another—use this guide to help you reveal your strengths and write about them in a compelling, creative way.

 

Good luck with your applications!

 

Linda Abraham

 

 

 

Leadership Starts with Trust

 

My youngest son passed away twelve years ago. In his memory, I am opening this admissions guide with a recollection I have about him and the qualities he embodied that are important to you, graduate school applicants.

 

At the time of his diagnosis, Joshua was a typical needle-phobic little boy. When he saw or heard about a needle intended for him, he went the other way. And if prevented from heading in the opposite direction, he cried, screamed, and did whatever he could to fight the needle.

 

However, after his diagnosis he learned to overcome his fears. In a memorial booklet for friends and family that I edited after he passed away, I wrote about how he learned to cope with weekly spinal taps:

 

I was concerned about his handling all those [spinal taps]. I needn’t have worried...

 

“Joshua, you did a great job!” I told him afterwards.

 

Just six years old then, Joshua had marched into the treatment room, climbed up onto the table, curled into a ball, and with Fran’s and Maria’s encouragement, held still without apparent difficulty. I was impressed. No, I was amazed.

 

He quietly accepted my accolades, and then added:

 

“Mommy, when you’re with good people, it is easier to be good. And we’re with really good people.”

 

How exactly had Fran and Maria earned the trust of a frightened, sick little boy? How did they obtain his cooperation and admiration?

 

And what does this have to do with you?

Trust is a critical element in leadership, and leadership is valued in admissions, whether you are applying to med school, b-school, law school, grad school, or college. Programs want to admit people who inspire trust and who can lead.

 

So back to Joshua’s story: How did Fran and Maria acquire that trust?

 

Maria’s recollection of meeting Joshua provides clues:

 

I walked into the playroom. Joshua was very quiet, soft-spoken, and very scared. I explained “Our Rule” about telling kids the truth and always telling them when they would be having something uncomfortable done. In the months to come, Joshua helped to enforce this rule more than any other child I’ve met. If you wanted Joshua’s trust and cooperation, you had to keep your end of the bargain first. Once that trust was established, he was able to cope with even the most painful procedures.

 

This unassuming woman knows that integrity is key to leadership. She knows how to establish and maintain trust. She knows how to change the behavior and attitude of the people around her. She knows how to lead.

 

Take these lessons and apply them in your lives. Leadership is not about grandstanding or being a loud-mouth or being “cool.” It’s about consistency, reliability, and trust. It’s about integrity.

 

 

 

Leadership Element: Responsibility

 

All programs value leadership. In an admissions world where “It depends...” rules, and there are exceptions to almost every rule, leadership is universally recognized as a desired quality.

 

But what constitutes leadership? Do you need to have led a team, held a title, or served in the military? What responsibilities and experiences shape leaders?

 

Responsibility and followers are the two critical qualities of leadership. If you act in isolation, it’s not leadership. If you have followers, but your mission is insignificant or doesn’t require commitment, your leadership is equally insignificant.

 

If you become chairperson of a fundraising or event committee, you are assuming responsibility for the money raised or the success of that event. The committee that works under you is following your lead. As such you will work on the project with them, but you will also persuade and motivate them to follow your lead. And of course, responsibility for success or failure is first and foremost with you. That kind of role reveals leadership and you should consider including it in your application.

 

Make sure that your leadership stories show you handling responsibility and motivating or persuading others to act or think in a certain way. Show how your leadership had impact and made a difference.

 

 

 

Admissions Wants Leadership Not Labels

 

I recently read an article by Rabbi David Lapin, author of the book Lead By Greatness, in which he argues, “It is true that most leaders need the power of status to support their effectiveness, but great leaders do not rely on that status to lead, they lead by their own greatness.

 

Rabbi Lapin explores the differences between status and stature:

 

Stature: “People of stature do not compete with one another; there is an endless supply of stature for anyone willing to invest in acquiring it.

 

Status: “Influence by means of status however, is a zero-sum game: One person’s gain of status is generally the other person’s loss. There is not an unlimited supply of status. Status has value because it is rare: There can only be one president, CEO, or [dean] for if titles were to be dished out liberally they would lose their value.”

 

I am frequently asked questions reflecting confusion over the difference between stature and status, character and captions, leadership and labels. While titles and awards may reflect stature, character, and leadership, they are also sometimes given out like trinkets or cheap rewards. They can be meaningless. Alternatively, one can handle responsibility well beyond what is expected of most people with a given title and not receive an elevated title. In that case one’s stature has garnered trust and informal recognition—the foundation of leadership—but not a formal designation.

 

Admissions committees know that titles can be flawed measures of leadership, responsibility, and character. In your essays, whether you have the title or not, you want to show the leadership that flows from stature, not status. Stature is an attribute based on trustworthiness, magnanimity, and a focus on group goals; it leads to change and impact.

 

 

 

Leadership in Admissions

 

Applicants often worry that they lack leadership experience. Many of you may work in flat organizations, and your title may not reflect the influence you actually have. Others may work in hierarchical organizations, and are on the bottom, or work in teams at a non-hierarchical organization.

 

Does lack of official subordinates equal lack of leadership? Does lack of any work experience imply a lack of leadership? Is a junior title an impossible obstacle?

The answer in all cases is a resounding “No.”

 

First of all, you do not need a title to lead. Eisenhower defined leadership as the “art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” No mention of title or hierarchy there.

 

You lead when you convince members of your team, club, or committee to take a course of action that you have advocated. You lead when you propose a new policy to higher-ups, gather support, and they accept your proposal. And yes, you (usually) lead subordinates—if you have them. But they are not necessary to show leadership.

 

In general, applicants tend to think of leadership in narrow terms: title, underlings, and reports. It is far broader than that. Admissions committee members recognize that breadth. So should you. And then portray it.

 

 

 

Different Styles of Leadership

 

A brief look at US leaders who have graced or cursed the world stage will quickly reveal that leadership is varied and multifaceted. Below is a list of leadership qualities and leaders who are generally thought to have evinced these qualities.

 

Dynamism – Theodore Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy

 

Communications – Franklin Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, John Kennedy

 

Charisma – Bill Clinton, John F. Kennedy, Theodore & Franklin Roosevelt

 

Vision – Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt

 

Logistical and organizational ability – Dwight D. Eisenhower

 

I could go on, but this list shows that leaders excel in different areas and in different ways. Think of leaders you know or admire. What makes them successful? Probably different qualities.

 

For some it will be a steady reliability and responsibility that inspires trust and confidence in others. For others it will be a compelling vision and the ability to powerfully communicate it. For others it’s the skill of listening, connecting, or perhaps making others feel important.

 

Now what makes you a successful leader? When have you demonstrated leadership skills and enabled others to achieve beyond expectations. Finally, what has been the outcome of your efforts? Has your organization grown? Raised more money? Increased sales? Accomplished in some other way?

 

Don’t think of leadership in narrow, conventional terms. It is varied and you can manifest it in diverse ways. Duke Fuqua provides an excellent resource that lays out the many facets of leadership in its Attributes of Consequential Leaders. If you are having any difficulty describing your leadership style or attributes, review this list.

 

And when you portray your leadership, paint it not in the broad, bland brushstroke used by everyone: leadership. Instead convey the different aspects of leadership at which you excel-- your kind of leadership. If you do so, you will succeed in communicating both your leadership and your uniqueness.

 

 

 

Lincoln’s Leadership Among Rivals

 

Yes, schools want to see intelligence and achievement, but when discussing personal qualities, leadership is at the top of every admissions professional’s Most Wanted List.

 

You can read volumes about leaders and leadership—good and bad. I just finished reading Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin. In it, Lincoln comes alive as a consummate leader.

 

According to Goodwin, what qualities made Lincoln into one of the most admired if not the most admired president in United States history? Here are a few:

 

1. Willingness to turn to rivals if he felt they were best qualified for a position. It didn’t matter to him whether they had hurt or helped him previously. The man simply refused to bear grudges. “With malice toward none; with charity for all” was not just a nice phrase; it was a way of life. And that nobility of spirit propelled him to heights of leadership.

 

2. Patience with others. While Lincoln could forgive rivals, those around him nurtured their peeves, disagreements, and grudges. Lincoln deftly navigated a hornet’s nest of egos and rivals.

 

3. Willingness to share praise when things went well and shoulder responsibility when things went wrong. He garnered trust from subordinates as a result.

 

4. Combination of principles and shrewdness. He didn’t seek fights he couldn’t win, but he kept his eyes on the values that were truly important to him and pursued them with consistency.

 

5. Gift for using humor and stories to make his point and defuse tension.

 

In your essays, when can you show a bigness of character, a willingness to reach out to competitors or rivals? Can you show a principled approach to leadership? Can you discuss a time when you told a joke to score points and release tension, and then turned the tide toward your point of view?

 

 

 

Wearing My Military Uniform in the Business World

 

Ben Faw, a combat veteran and former Army Captain, shares his thoughts on how prior members of the military can use their unique skill sets to battle the dangerously high young-veteran unemployment rate of 21.4%.

 

Rank never equaled respect in the military, and neither will your title in the private sector.

 

Pinning the 2nd Lieutenant bar on my beret and shoulders as a junior Army officer following graduation from West Point was an incredible moment. However, I already knew any true respect from my subordinates would be earned through actions and care for their needs, not through the rank shown on my uniform.

 

The same principles apply in business. As Theodore Roosevelt once said, “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” In my own case, helping my Soldiers clean bathrooms when they were exhausted from the sweltering heat in Iraq earned more respect than any rank or position ever would.

 

Post military, my experiences in private companies and academic environments have shown this same principle at work. Serving others as a leader has translated into far more credibility and respect than flaunting position, rank, or past accomplishments.

 

The “Right Time, Right Place, Right Uniform” Still Makes a Difference

 

While the peer from the private sector might know Excel modeling and financial statements far better than a veteran, the self-discipline practiced in the military is rarely ingrained as deeply in people from other backgrounds. Malcolm Gladwell writes about the 10,000 hours it takes to become an expert in something; after the first few years of service, many veterans have already completed the 10,000 hours in self-discipline training.

 

Whether you are going to a platoon meeting or the corporate board room, arriving a few minutes early dressed in the right attire goes a long way in building trust, credibility, and authority. I can still clearly remember an occasion when I was late in Basic Officer Training, and I was the patrol leader for the mission! That terrible feeling in my stomach after my commander woke me up late at 5AM is something I will never let happen again.

 

Fitness, Health, and Wellness Create an Edge

 

Those early morning physical training sessions five days a week in the military were not a waste. Instead, they built a habit and character trait that now becomes an advantage. Maintaining this fitness routine post-military provides more than just a healthy feeling; recent research indicates it may lead to higher wages as well.

 

Even if your health and wellness never directly impacts wages, the self-discipline and work ethic can shine through to potential employers in a positive way.

 

Practicing healthy living can also help reduce stress and build the resilience and stamina needed for the challenges of the future. With long winding and ambiguous career paths for many in today’s workforce, every reasonable way to reduce stress is useful!

 

Be Willing to Serve Based on the Job, Not the Location

 

Veterans tend to take jobs all over the country after business school. This should not come as a huge surprise. In their military careers, veterans have been deployed in locations far off the beaten path, and continuing on this same trend of serving based on the job—and not on the location—is nothing new for them. While it can be neat to live in an energetic city, if you dislike the job itself or the company culture, it is not the right choice for you. Instead, focus on finding something that you love, regardless of location, and you will always do your best work.

 

Leadership is Incredibly Transferable

 

While the functional training received in the military is not always transferable to the private sector, the leadership skills are. When I started my military service, I learned how to follow. As a freshman at West Point, I witnessed my first Platoon Sergeant earn incredible respect by participating alongside the unit in every event, even when he had no obligation to do so. In that same training cycle, another unit leader constantly did the minimum required and lost credibility. When I was eventually given responsibility for subordinates, I made sure I set the example through participation and devotion to duty.

 

In one of my first civilian jobs at Tesla Motors, learning by following again helped me build the skills to lead that I would eventually use when I earned more responsibility within the company. Whether you are leading a military unit into harm’s way or guiding a team though the due diligence process for an investment, many of the same skills apply: communicating and listening to others, leading by example, and treating all parties with respect. These skills were essential in the military, and they are still incredibly important in the private sector.

 

 

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