Just wanted to get your thoughts on this question:
Essay 1: We believe one of the keys to effective leadership is the ability to transform ideas into action. Describe a time within the last three years in which you exercised such leadership. What did you learn about your leadership strengths and development needs? (500 words maximum)
The part I bolded - development needs - is the part I am having a hard time with. Would something like "I was leading by instinct - I didn't have any formal training" qualify as a development need?
This is a gimme question.
Your development needs were very clear.
You saw them immediately.
You know exactly what your development needs were.
They were most certainly NOT related to your leadership.
Cause thats TOP NOTCH.
They were related to why you are pursuing an mba.
They were specific to your goals, and your vision and they were crystal in their needs.
Get it yet?
Your development needs are as follows:
"Although in achieving X, I did Y, and suceeded in saving the firm $X, I realized I hadn't achieved what I could. Specifically, I had struggled to solve the issue of Z, because I lacked a formal background in FINANCE/MARKETING/ACCOUNTING/ENTREP/ORG BEHAVIOR/PICK ONE OR TWO. This experience sparked my initial interest in the MBA as I believe an MBA education from X will help me bring together these key fundamental skills, etc... etc "
Something like that.
I love questions like these, because you can toss out something simple - "I just dont know how to run a cost benefit analysis" or "I had no background in marketing ice to eskimos" or whatever - and tie it directly back to yoru MBA. You can even go a step further and mention a course or two that would have prepared you for this challenge.
A note about this:
The question is about leadership yes, and my "development need" is not about laedership, so am I answering the question?
I think I am. I'd much rather focus on something like this than actually highlight a weakness thats trully a leadership weakness ("I'm not good at motivating people" or something like that).
This is my two cents, and lets see what others say, but I'd much rather address an issue thats germane to the MBA and my future goals than do a deep dive into a potential minefield, even if it means taking a little liberty with the scope of the question.
If this concerns you, theres an easy way to tie it to leadership.
"Although my leadership strenghts, x and y, already discussed allowed me to succeed, I faced a particularly difficult challenge acting in a leadership role as those on my team had a deeper knowledge of FINANCE/MARKETING/ETC. Although I gained their trust, there were moments where my lack of formal training in this area was likely obvious.
Brigning together these elements through an MBA education will allow me to work more seamlessly across an organization and lead in areas where my current functional knowledge may be relatively weak."