At Stacy Blackman Consulting, we do a lot of thinking about leadership – what is leadership, how best to showcase it, why it matters and more. If asked what is the single most important quality for business school applications, I would say leadership. While some schools emphasize it more than others – leadership is extremely important to every school. They are grooming overall leaders, not just number-crunchers, marketers or statisticians.
Leadership often gets confused with management, but being a great leader is not just about managing something, although that can be a part of it. Last week I was featured in a BusinessWeek article called, Make Your Leadership Case for B-School Admission. It’s a very helpful article that helps to dissect exactly what leadership is. It also provides six examples of how to demonstrate leadership potential.
I am quoted as saying, “It’s about leaving a footprint on whatever situation you’re in and doing more than a good job,” says Stacy Blackman, president of Stacy Blackman Consulting. “Leadership is not a solo effort. You’re inspiring others and bringing out the best in them.” These two points are critical and help to explain how leadership differs from just any great achievement.
1) Leaving a footprint – think about how you made an impact even in a very simple way. that footprint can reveal a lot about what you care about and how you engage with an organization.
2) Working with others – if you accomplish something alone, no matter how impressive it may be, you are not really leading. Think about WHO you led, and how you led in order to develop a great example.
If you are beginning to contemplate content and stories for your applications, definitely check out this very helpful article. Our book, The MBA Application Roadmap, also has terrific content on leadership, how to brainstorm for good topics and how to approach the essays. We consider it a must read as you approach the application process!