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Leadership traits

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Leadership traits [#permalink] New post 10 Jun 2004, 16:48
I understand, the major trait the B-Schools will be looking for, when I apply to a B-School is my leadership potential. And some of the clues they will be looking for while evaluating my candidature are my significant accomplishments to date and demonstrated leadership abilities.

Now imagine this: Suppose I haven't made any stellar impacts to date. Suppose I am not in a leadership position in my work now(just a significant contributor). Is shooting for HBA just a fantasy(apart from GMAT and GPA scores)?

How and what steps can I take to expose and boost my leadership potential. What are the good places to start with. What are the things I can do. How can I improve my chances for getting in the top5 and make the world a better place to live in! Thanks in advance for yours constructive feedbacks.
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Re: Leadership traits [#permalink] New post 10 Jun 2004, 17:49
Expert's post
tapsemi wrote:
How and what steps can I take to expose and boost my leadership potential. What are the good places to start with. What are the things I can do. How can I improve my chances for getting in the top5 and make the world a better place to live in! Thanks in advance for yours constructive feedbacks.


Yup, you're right that it's something that every top school will look for. Honestly, it will be hard to position yourself as a leader if you haven't yet had the chance to show off your leadership skills. Adcomms generally work off of the assumption that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. Naturally, if you haven't led or made a big impact yet, it's hard for them to envision you doing so in the future. Saying that you intend to is nice, but obviously everyone will say that. They therefore look for actions and achievements in your past that show that you are someone who takes charge and makes a difference.

The most obvious advice I can give you is to try and identify an opportunity where you can make a difference, and go and make it happen. This can be in your job or outside of it. Ideally you'll have some of both, but if you forced me to pick one I'd say make it in your job. How exactly do you find such an opportunity? Well, is there an area where your company/work group consistently falls short? Do you have a strong opinion along the lines of "Why don't we do it this way," etc? Know of someone who needs more help than he's getting?

These are just high-level ideas, but you see what I'm getting at. Generally speaking, look for opportunities that will allow you to say, "I did something beyond my normal job description," or "That would NOT have happened unless I had been around." Those are good guidelines to use, both for professional an extracurricular opportunities. The other thing to keep in mind is that when I say "opportunities," I don't mean projects that will just be handed to you. Remember that a leader goes out and finds a way to make a difference, rather than waiting for something to be assigned to him. You should take the same approach.

Are you still fairly young (25 or younger)? If so, then you still have time to gain some good leadership experience. I would recommend trying to gain some more of that kind of experience before applying to top-five schools. You'll increase your odds of success a lot!

Good luck,
Scott
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leadership at HBS [#permalink] New post 12 Jun 2004, 03:54
Dear Scott & Omari,

I have been reading your MBA Game Plan book over the last few weeks & I would like to say that it has been an enormous benefit. I have learnt an incredible amount of which I did not know of.

There is one question that has been lingering in my mind. Top B-schools make leadership traits & abilities almost a must in every applicant. But what makes their academic programs different from those that dont? Let's take HBS for example, I hope I am not wrong by saying that leadership is almost an absolute requirement for a successful HBS applicant. But what is it in particular in HBS' teaching that shapes & creates future leaders? And what difference would it make to an applicant's ability to cope with the program if he never had any leadership experiences?

Regards,

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Re: leadership at HBS [#permalink] New post 14 Jun 2004, 13:03
Expert's post
xgazoe wrote:

There is one question that has been lingering in my mind. Top B-schools make leadership traits & abilities almost a must in every applicant. But what makes their academic programs different from those that dont? Let's take HBS for example, I hope I am not wrong by saying that leadership is almost an absolute requirement for a successful HBS applicant. But what is it in particular in HBS' teaching that shapes & creates future leaders? And what difference would it make to an applicant's ability to cope with the program if he never had any leadership experiences?


Truthringer can answer your HBS-specific questions better than I can, but I'll say that b-schools don't *make* leaders. Rather, they look for people with strong evidence of leadership potential, and then they train those people to make them even better leaders. It's like the NBA draft in basketball. Pro teams don't make great basketball players from scratch. They draft guys who are already great and have terrific potential, and then make them even better.

The other thing I'll say is that I think the difference between a schools that teaches someone about leadership vs. one that doesn't is the emphasis that each school places on the types of things that you learn. A school that doesn't place emphasis on developing leaders will focus on teaching specific skills, like how to value a financial instrument, how to execute a stock trade, how to analyze market research data, etc. The schools that do emphasize leadership-type skills will put more emphasis on how to think when analyzing a competitor's actions, how to structure incentives to best motivate people, how to negotiate, etc. These "how to think" skills may serve you less in your first job out of school, but can potentially help you much more down the road, as you take on more and more responsibility.

Some people will argue that one is better than the other. But that's the main difference that I see between schools that emphasize leadership vs. those that don't.

I think that anyone can get through any of these programs without lots of leadership experience. But, getting in will be the hard part. An applicant who has no real leadership experience to point to will have a hard time getting into one of these top schools, in my opinion.

Scott
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