How to Show Leadership Potential in Your MBA Applications (Even Without Holding a Formal Title)

InterviewBusiness schools are known to value the leadership potential of their candidates very highly. Consequently, applicants often worry that their work experiences are not strong enough to impress the Admissions Committee – especially when they do not hold a high-ranking title or do not have direct reports under their supervision.

Aside from formal leadership responsibilities within your organization, use the tips below to showcase your future leadership potential in your MBA applications:

1) Use Successes of Selling Ideas
MBA applicants who have roles as experts or individual contributors to a company often do not have any staff underneath them. If you are in this position, use examples of your success in selling ideas to showcase your leadership potential. This could include convincing senior management to approve a proposal, collaborating with diverse stakeholders for a project, and getting your plans implemented across the company.

Aside from displaying innovation and initiative, speaking about your success in selling ideas will also allow you to demonstrate your ability to negotiate, align and relate with people from diverse backgrounds and motivations, showcasing you as an applicant who can collaborate with peers at business school and be an effective leader post-MBA. This addresses both the leadership and teamwork skills that Admissions Committees look for, while giving you an avenue to show examples of your creativity and expertise.

2) Play up Personal Passions
To present yourself as an all-around great personality with multiple dimensions, you will need to share your personal interests – the activities you do to have fun, to relieve stress, and to grow outside of the work environment will definitely make you a more interesting candidate to the Admissions Committee. In determining which extracurriculars to elaborate on, choose those that involve leadership responsibilities or impressive projects that you took an active role in (these examples could also easily go in any essays that ask for examples of leadership, success, or failure).

Aside from making your profile stand out and offering you another way to display your leadership potential, sharing your passions in this way will give you the chance to show the Admissions Committee how easy it would be for you to relate with your future business school peers and contribute to their experiences.

3) Include Informal Mentoring and Influencing
Another way to demonstrate your interpersonal leadership skills is to relate stories of how you informally mentored and influenced someone to help you achieve an accomplishment or solve a particular problem. MBA programs increasingly value the importance of this ability. In addition to showing the values of leadership, empathy and teamwork, including information about this mentoring in your profile will also be a great chance to exhibit your drive, initiative and ability to adapt to working with different types of personalities.

By employing the tips above, you will be able to demonstrate strong leadership potential – even without holding an impressive title in your organization – while also sharing outstanding aspects of your personal profile.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Written by Edison Cu, a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for INSEAD.

How MBA Applicants Can Demonstrate Leadership

In our ongoing quest to provide you with the best MBA admissions resources available anywhere, we present the second video in our MBA admissions series: How MBA Applicants Can Demonstrate Leadership.

So many applicants come to us every year with concerns about a lack of leadership experiences. When we dig a little deeper, we often find they they do in fact have great leadership experiences to talk about, although they may not come from traditional leadership roles, such as a big job title at work, military rank, team captain, etc. It’s an applicant’s ability to identify and clearly communicate these less obvious leadership stories that can make the difference between admissions to or rejection from a competitive MBA program.

(You can go to YouTube to watch the video in a larger size.)

As our own Samantha Johnston likes to say, leadership is a set of behaviors, not a job title or a rank. Leadership can come in many flavors, and shows up in many settings. As Paul Lanzillotti says, the richest leadership stories exhibit a blend of professional experiences and personal values — you not only achieved results, but you did so in a way that’s consistent with your core values.

Watch the video and think about what leadership experiences you might be able to draw upon in your own applications. You think of some outside of your job title and day-to-day responsibilities at work? How did you accomplish something that no one else could have done without you? Those stories often make for the richest leadership examples in your MBA admissions essays.