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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, 2/2)  

2017-03-25 05:14:14|  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, 2/2)

 

 

 

The Leadership Essay

 

By Jennifer Bloom, Accepted editor

 

McKinsey Consulting published a fascinating interview with director Brad Bird. While McKinsey’s focus was on the lessons one can learn from one of the world’s most innovative companies, Brad Bird’s story was also a story of laudable leadership.

 

Many applicants find “leadership” the most difficult of the MBA qualities to demonstrate in their applications. It is not just about managing a team; it is about generating exceptional results from it. So the first thing I recommend to you all right now is to read this interview. Through the examples that Mr. Bird shares, we can understand the essentials of good leadership and recognize examples from our own experiences that—we can only hope!—measure up to Bird’s standards.

 

Many of my clients are official team leaders, but when they share examples of their leadership, I push them for more depth and greater detail to spotlight that leadership for the admissions committees. For example, if Bird were writing his own leadership essay, he might have just talked about the morale of the team and his dedication to improving it. What made Bird’s leadership example truly memorable was the way he conducted that discussion, and any MBA application essay on leadership that omitted such detail, unfortunately might not have earned even a highlighting mark from the adcom reviewing it.

 

For example, Bird describes the moment he sat 30 Ratatouille developers down and told them that the past year’s work was off the mark—the computer and artistic work were well done but would not connect audiences with the growth and development of the movie’s main character. Bird says:

 

I stopped and thought for a second. I thought, these guys have been sent down blind alleys for a couple of years. They want to know that I’m not doing anything lightly and that if I’m going to make them do a bunch more work, it’s for a reason. So I said, “This movie is about a rat who wants to enter the human world. We have to make that a visual choice for the character. If you have all of the rats walking on two legs, there’s no separation between him and the other rats. If we have this separation as a visual device, we can see the character make his transformation and choose to be on two legs, and he can become more or less ratty, depending on his emotional state. That brings the audience into the character’s mind.”

 

I spent six minutes saying all this and the guy was initially scowling. But gradually the scowl went away, and he said, “OK.” Once I gave that answer, everyone felt, “OK, we’re on this ship and we’re going toward a definite destination.”

 

That story immediately grabs the reader: It shows introspection, vision, and true leadership. Bird obviously understands what it takes to motivate people to excel, and that talent is a fundamental ingredient to innovation. His ability to translate motivation and morale into action and results transform him into a truly exemplary leader.

 

The details in Bird’s thought process and the implementation of his ideas make his Ratatouille experience a truly compelling story. Similar details comprise the best application essays. They present that connection between thought, action, and impact that demonstrates the applicant is worthy of a place in the top programs.

 

 

 

The Many Faces of Leadership

 

“I figured it all out.”

 

That’s how I would paraphrase the essays many of my clients—MBA applicants and others—write in response to the ubiquitous “Describe a leadership experience” question. Now of course “figuring it all out,” my shorthand for “I came up with a creative solution to a tricky problem” or “I developed a killer spreadsheet model, the likes of which my team had never seen before” or similar achievements, is an important aspect of leadership.

 

But it’s just one aspect.

 

Skilled problem-solving, or “thought leadership,” as we called it at McKinsey & Company, where I worked as a business strategy consultant, was the mark of, well, a skilled problem-solver; but many of the most respected consultants at the firm, including senior partners, were equally or even more talented at something we didn’t have a formal name for: people leadership.

 

By effectively shaping our thinking on client firms’ problems as well as motivating us to work long hours to develop solutions to these problems and collaborate with our clients on implementing them, these colleagues were exemplary leaders.

 

So don’t forget to include strong elements of people leadership in your essays. Here are several elements to keep in mind:

 

? Rallying others around a vision. Did you convince your team or group to follow a specific path/solution? How did you do it? Successful clients have talked about handling dissenting opinions diplomatically or presenting their teams’ detailed quantitative evidence for a recommendation. The more you can show that you understood your audience and tailored the content and form of your message to them, the better.

 

? Harnessing others’ strengths—and expanding them. Did you provide team members tasks they could handle comfortably based on their capabilities, as well as opportunities to broaden their skills? For example, you may have handed your quant jock teammate the most complicated operations analysis as well as responsibility for leading a key client meeting. In this way you leverage teammates’ strengths while helping them develop new ones.

 

? Getting through tough times. Did you model for your team enviable cool in pressure-cooker situations, maybe helping them keep the big-picture goal in mind or lightening the mood with humor? Did you reward teammates with praise, pizza, or both for working long into the night? Did you pitch in on others’ responsibilities as deadlines loomed? Helping your team handle stress while managing your own is a cornerstone of strong leadership.

 

These are just some of the leadership traits you can show in your essay to make it more compelling. And remember, you don’t have to be in an official position of leadership to demonstrate them. We all know peers who provide great leadership without any formal authority. Make clear that you’re one of them.

 

 

 

Writing a Powerful Leadership/Achievement Essay

 

Essays that ask you to write about significant achievements fall under the category of what are known as behavioral or experiential questions. The basic assumption behind these questions is that past behavior is a great predictor of future behavior. They are all varieties on the theme of “Tell us about a time when you...” These questions are meant to take the measure of your managerial potential.

 

Achievement questions present fantastic opportunities for you to reveal the uber-value of business schools: leadership. No question about it, great managers are leaders. To the extent you can display leadership through your achievement or other behavioral-related essays, you will want to do so.

 

Let’s look at how one candidate effectively addressed this essay question from Stanford: Tell us about a time when you made a lasting impact on your organization.

 

Notice how the writer avoids writing about leadership in general terms and focuses instead on the specific aspects of his contributions and their impact:

 

The Change Agent

 

When I was invited to become the Vice President and General Manager at Third Way Associates (TWA) two years ago, the company was in financial and administrative disorder. Employee retention was poor, and TWA took too long to pay vendors because of poor communication and accounting processes. Cash flow was managed based on immediate needs rather than by the logic of budgets planned by project and city. Sloppy expense reports that were turned in with no receipts were reimbursed to employees.

 

TWA founders Scott W ____ and Glenn L ____ had good intentions, but spent most of their time selling sponsorships and getting new clients rather than directing and managing the company. As we begin 2011, TWA is much healthier in every way. Under my direction, vendors are paid in an average of 20 days from date of invoice, instead of 60 days or more. Our cash flow is better administered since I introduced very specific detailed area budgets with over 125 budget lines per city. Because I can give the company founders much better stability and macro-management vision, the three of us are able to look more to the future rather than simply put out fires.

 

Despite the difficult economy in 2010, we not only retained our same clients but also signed several new client agreements for three years or more, including a two-year contract with Puma worth $1.3 million. I’ve brought fresh accounts and industries into TWA, including ____ Airlines and Gatorade, among others. Combined, these accounts generated more than $500,000 in 2010 and we estimate close to $1 million dollars in 2011.

 

Since my arrival, we have a much wider and broader sales menu which has been crucial to generate more revenue. I’ve expanded our most popular sports events to 25 cities, giving our clients new investment opportunities. These events range from recreational soccer clinic tours to professional soccer games broadcast on TV.

 

I also expanded our field staff, and at present we have 25 strong and reliable managers who report directly to me from each city. Despite the economy, 2010 was not a bad year for TWA, and 2011 promises to be even better if we continue our current strategy and continue to work as a team.

 

In every paragraph, this writer mentions concrete measures he took to introduce order to a chaotic company that was trying to grow. From instituting budgets with line items, an improved accounts payable system, and recruiting additional big-name accounts, the writer proves how his efforts strengthened the organization.

 

As you choose among your own experiences as essay material, think about these questions to help you frame answers of substance:

 

? What was the obstacle, challenge, or problem that you solved in this accomplishment? A tight client deadline? A complex merger transaction? A new product launch amidst fierce competition?

 

? What did you do to rise to the challenge you are writing about? Motivate your team to work overtime? Sell senior management on the deal’s long-term upside? Identify a marketing profile for your product that no competitor can match?

 

? What facts demonstrate that your intervention created a happy ending? Did your team submit the project deliverables three days early despite being 20% understaffed? Your client approved the $500 million merger, the largest ever in its industry? Your new product has 20% market share after only one year? What was the impact of your leadership?

 

Another tip: Look for opportunities to incorporate strong verbs that illustrate your strengths in these areas. Good examples of leadership might incorporate several of the following:

 

? Listening

? Initiating

? Mentoring

? Teaching

? Persuading

? Organizing

? Establishing a goal or vision

? Motivating

? Managing

? Obtaining buy-in

? Taking responsibility

 

The old adage, “Show, don’t tell,” remains a classic bit of wisdom in the writing process. Make that a guiding principle not only in your leadership/achievement essays, but throughout your application.

 

 

 

Admissions Uber-Value: Leadership

 

If you’re interested in admissions history, I recommend you read The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton by Jerome Karabel. This book’s 557 pages plus 100+ pages of footnotes tells the story of admissions at these elite institutions since the beginning of the 20th century, when frankly they were more like male finishing schools than rigorous academic institutions. Mark Twain’s line “I’ve never let my school interfere with my education” comes to mind.

 

Throughout, The Chosen presents a consistent theme: The Ivy League administrators have known that their institutions are producing the leaders of tomorrow. They have created classes reflecting their beliefs as to who would and should lead professions, the country, and the world in the future. They knew and know they are creating a leadership class.

 

While societal views on diversity, inclusion, and exclusion have evolved over the last 100 years, the elite schools are elite because they produce leaders. To paraphrase Harvard Business School’s philosophy, it’s easier to develop leaders than create them. Consequently, if you want to attend a program dedicated to producing leaders, you need to show leadership in your essays.

 

The need to demonstrate leadership in applications isn’t really news, but it does present a problem: If you show you are leaders and write and talk about leadership, you all sound the same, and kind of boring. Furthermore that homogeneity butts up against another major admissions value: diversity.

 

In contrast, if you write about different aspects of leadership, then suddenly your essays will not sound like all other essays. You will choose different qualities to write about and focus on those elements of your experience that reveal those qualities as opposed to the overarching principle of “leadership.”

 

Here are a few qualities that you may want to highlight in your essays to show leadership without blathering on like everyone else who just discusses leadership and not the ingredients that create great leaders.

 

? The importance of transparency and integrity.

? Humility. The value of seeking help.

? The ability to “select a destination,” or determine a goal, and inspire.

? A drive to simplify.

? Desire to balance long-term and short-term interests.

? Willingness to share strategy with your followers.

? Good listening.

 

You probably can’t discuss all of these attributes, but by portraying one or two in an essay, you can reveal qualities valued by admissions committees, and you will distinguish yourself. Help them see you as a mover and shaker whom they may just want as a member of their class.

 

 

 

Conclusion

 

Writing about your leadership skills and experiences is not an easy feat. It requires introspection about the qualities you possess, the challenges you faced head-on, and the people you inspired and moved to action. I hope that this guide has inspired and moved you to take an active role in preparing and writing about leadership for your application essays.

 

 

以上内容摘自:

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