Thanks for your reply.
First, let me mention the schools that I applied to last year:
Harvard, Wharton, Columbia, Sloan, Booth, Stern, Tepper, Olin (Wustl), and Boston U.
Of those, I got into, Olin, Tepper, and BU, and an interview at Stern, and outright rejected at the others.
I was probably overly ambitious in my applications, but my GMAT score is great, and my grades are on par.
I'm also a kick ass software engineer, and I have some pretty good accomplishments there.
I feel that one problem with my applications is that in such a technical field, it was pretty hard to write about some of my accomplishments. Even though the accomplishments demonstrated leadership, courage, and not just technical no-how, it was less than trivial to set the scene.
It is also the case that it is harder for software engineer to "advance." A software engineer who knows the code well, is good at design, works hard, and makes smart decisions is incredibly valuable to a company. Companies usually want to keep them doing that. Companies pay them well, treat them well, and try to make them as comfortable as possible, so that they can keep working. A software developer can show leadership by ensuring that his code is testable, well tested, all the right design principals are followed, and helping less talented/more junior developers do the same. Not exactly the stuff of MBA admissions essays is it?
I think you make a good point about the post MBA goals. I will try to make mine a little more detailed: I would like to work as a consultant (probably for a large firm, but maybe a small one) doing analysis of technical/business decisions, buy vs. build analysis, ROI on technical investments, analysis of the effect of outsourcing on time to market, total cost, etc. I did a bit of that work in a previous job, but that company had its own issues (i.e. I don't think it exists anymore, for one thing). I feel that I would be well qualified for that since I have quite a bit of experience in the trenches and an understanding of how those decisions are made.
I have to say that no, I have not taken much leadership outside of work since last year. I have three titles at work where I had one before--that has pretty much taken up all of my time.