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Analysis of an Issue - Leadership - Feedback Appreciated

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Senior Manager
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Joined: 31 Aug 2009
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Location: Sydney, Australia
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Kudos [?]: 115 [0], given: 20

Analysis of an Issue - Leadership - Feedback Appreciated [#permalink] New post 14 Nov 2009, 23:26
Kudos for any constructive feedback and scores :)


ESSAY QUESTION:
"Since key personal traits that make a good leader are formed during one’s childhood and youth, formal training can only refine rather than cultivate true leaders.”

Explain what you think this quotation means and discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with it. Develop your position with reasons and/or specific examples drawn from history, current events, or your own experience, observations, or reading.

YOUR RESPONSE:
The issue states that key personal traits that make a good leader are formed during one's childhood and youth and that formal training can only refine rather than cultivate true leaders. While there are cases where this is true, I personally disagree and find it a far stretch to believe that in most cases formal training plays a large role in cultivating true leaders.

Firstly, the issue states that the key personal traits that make a good leader are developed in one's youth. While one's youth is certainly full of events which shape their personality in later life, the role of formal training through their childhood through to early adulthood will definitely play a major role as well. High school and university are two examples of formal training that are an integral part of early adulthood. While some may argue that the primary purpose of this formal education is to provide content knowledge to the students, studies have shown that formal education is a vehicle to instill good habits and personality traits into individuals. For example, a recent survey conducted by the New South Wales Department of Education has shown that teachers believe it of equal importance that they instill a sense of ownership, responsibility, and teamwork to their students. All these qualities make for a great leader and so to claim that formal education only refines these skills is inaccurate. Many students will experience and learn these skills for the first time during school and university.

A second reason why I do not agree with the issue stated is that a key part of a personal development occurs in the period that of early adulthood, when a person leaves home and university and becomes part of the workforce. This is a large character building exercise as it will test the person socially and professionally in a way that they would not have experienced in childhood and youth. During this period many personal traits will develop or evolve but much of this is influenced by formal training. An example of this is training provided by organisations. Many of the worlds true leaders in the form of executives, CEOs and political figures join large corporate of government institutions when they start their careers. From my personal experiences a lot of these organisations provide training that teaches individuals a large range of skills from staying motivated and motivating others to how to lead a team at a client site. It would be a little presumptious to disregard these skills in crafting true leadership skills. While personal traits developed during one's childhood may assist in developing adopting such skills, these would still only be learnt during formal training.

Finally, there are many institutions which have a proven track record of crafting leaders. I am using the term institution here to loosely refer to great professional companies through to traditional educational institutions. As an example lets consider the concept of business schools in the United States. Over the last century many of the worlds leaders are alumni of these institutions.

In conclusion, while the issue stated has certain merits I disagree on the basis of the reasons provided above. To reiterate these reasons: formal education in early adulthood helps shape individuals and develops leadership skills, formal training provided during the period an individual typically leaves home and enters the workforce is critical in developing leadship ability, and finally that formal training by some of the worlds reknown institutions have proven to cultivate some of the world's truly great leaders.
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Schools: BA Amherst College, MFA Brooklyn College
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Re: Analysis of an Issue - Leadership - Feedback Appreciated [#permalink] New post 16 Nov 2009, 15:10
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This essay would certainly earn a 6, unless it came across an especially ornery grader.

I only say this because it's transparently formulaic. It's completely by-the-book, so much so that one could find it a victim of over-coaching.

For example, you are quite explicit on a number of fronts.

-Stating your thesis in the last clause of the intro paragraph (regardless, I would drop the first person pronoun).
-Your body paragraphs start with "firstly," "a second reason," and "finally." (Sure this is the template but one should work a bit to integrate the model subtly.)
-Your meta-restatement of your reasons in the conclusion as to your reasons. (Ibid.)

Of course, I am being extremely nitpicky but I just wanted to highlight a few possible causes for concern. Regardless, I still think this essay would earn a 6; good stuff.

Please let me know if you have any questions,

Josh
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Senior Manager
Senior Manager
avatar
Joined: 31 Aug 2009
Posts: 422
Location: Sydney, Australia
Followers: 6

Kudos [?]: 115 [0], given: 20

Re: Analysis of an Issue - Leadership - Feedback Appreciated [#permalink] New post 16 Nov 2009, 22:04
Thanks for the tips Josh.
I suspected it would be worth a 5 or a 6 but just wanted to validate that. I will incorporate your feedback into my actual GMAT essays next week. I agree the essay may seem a bit stale and by-the-book, so I may look into being a bit more creative with my wording.

Cheers
yangsta8
Re: Analysis of an Issue - Leadership - Feedback Appreciated   [#permalink] 16 Nov 2009, 22:04
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