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Michigan Essay About Leadership

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Michigan Essay About Leadership [#permalink] New post 31 Oct 2006, 06:09
Hey Guys

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?
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Re: Michigan Essay About Leadership [#permalink] New post 31 Oct 2006, 08:40
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batchgmat wrote:
Hey Guys

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.

Something like:

"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."
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 [#permalink] New post 31 Oct 2006, 14:48
Thanks Rhyme!

However, my problem is that the leadership story I am talking about involves IT stuff (kinda low level). Basically coordinated and led a migration. So MKTNG/ACCTNG/FINANCE/ENTREP/etc can't be used.

What would you suggest?
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 [#permalink] New post 31 Oct 2006, 15:11
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batchgmat wrote:
Thanks Rhyme!

However, my problem is that the leadership story I am talking about involves IT stuff (kinda low level). Basically coordinated and led a migration. So MKTNG/ACCTNG/FINANCE/ENTREP/etc can't be used.

What would you suggest?


I'd argue that your not digging deep enough. Why was this it migration effort being undertaken? Think larger than the immediate task. Was it related to a larger effort for corporate compliance? Maybe it was related to sarbanes oxley?

If you want to PM me the essay or specifics about what the project was I can come up with ideas.

I still think theres always a way to tie it back.

If you are migrating data from one server to the other, why did you? Was it related to performance? Why was that an issue? Was finance running reports from that machine? Maybe you thought that if only you could understand the reports at a deeper level, maybe you could find a better solution.

If all else fails, there's the catchall fallback. Whatever the project, whatever the reason, there is ALWAYS some business reason behind it. Look past the immediate task, look past the major project, there's always some tie in to a larger company objective. I've almost never found something that doesn't. If it truly doesn't, then you need to ask yourself if you want to be talking about something that is TACTICAL and not STRATEGIC. That's the number one challenge of IT of course - everything seems to be tactical, but if you dig deep enough, there's a strategic element - and thats the element you want to focus on. Think big picture vs day to day. If this makes no sense, let me know.

Maybe your eyes only see to the immediate technical problem - "we migrated because of performance issues" - but why were those performance issues a problem in the first place? What was the business function of the data? If you had been able to better understand the business functions that needed this information, you might have been able to better understand the best solution.

If its a migration of 98 to XP its sarbanes oxley related maybe, so you can talk about trying to learn Sarbanes Oxley and realizing you needed a much deeper understanding of different corporate functions to fully grasp the full picture - not just sarbanes as it relates to IT, but how it relates to the firm as a whole. Sarbox is a great little bit of crap because it lets you say things like "With a company wide impact across many divisions - finance, marketing, legal, compliance, human resources, etc - I realized that if I could better understand the core of these functions, I could have likely developed a better solution."

And close with a tie in to the MBA:

"This is why I need an MBA education: to understand and bring together the needs of different areas of an organization."

If you can't figure out what the strategic element was to your story, ask your boss who funded the project, or ask him directly if it's related to a larger company goal. Read the online press releases and try and see what they talk about and how you did might relate.

I know this is vague, but its hard to be specific about a firm and project I know nothing about. Hope it helps.
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 [#permalink] New post 31 Oct 2006, 15:32
Thanks Rhyme!

You have said some golden stuff. I PMed you my essay so you could get a better idea of what I did/didn't do.
  [#permalink] 31 Oct 2006, 15:32
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