Do you want to get admitted into your dream business school? Doing so requires a good deal of forward thinking, especially when it comes to crafting a winning MBA essay on leadership. While there’s no miracle formula that guarantees acceptance, applying the right tips and tricks can give you an edge and make your application stands out from the rest.

If you’re wracking your brain for creative angles and insights about what makes great leaders tick, don’t worry – we’ve got some amazing advice that will help boost your chances of submitting the best possible leadership essay!

What is leadership and why is it so important in the MBA application process?

Leadership is an important quality to possess, especially when it comes to the MBA application process. Leadership is generally understood as the ability to motivate and guide a group of people towards a shared outcome or goal. Strong leadership skills are essential for any business professional because they demonstrate that you have the energy, confidence and organizational skills necessary to be successful in a managerial role.

In the MBA application process, admission committees look for applicants who have established leadership credentials through their academic and professional accomplishments, extracurricular involvement, community service and entrepreneurial activities. They also consider how applicants interact with peers during interviews and assess their communication, problem-solving and decision-making abilities. These qualities can be demonstrated through examples of leading teams in any context: professional, academic, extracurricular activities, community or volunteer work.

The size of the project or team doesn’t matter as much as your commitment to taking initiative and driving progress. The committee is interested in seeing how you have handled obstacles and challenges and worked towards positive outcomes. They want to see that you have actively sought out leadership roles and taken on responsibility for your success, no matter how small or large the project was. Ultimately, MBA admissions committees are looking for evidence that you are a leader who is capable of bringing vision, energy, and innovation to your studies and future career.

Here are a few tips to highlight your leadership skills in your MBA essays:

Prepare Ahead of Time

Starting early is important when it comes to writing an MBA essay on leadership that effectively presents your skills and experiences in a unique and compelling way. The earlier you begin the process, the more time you have to brainstorm ideas, research topics, edit drafts, and perfect your essay. In addition to having plenty of time to craft an exceptional essay, starting early allows for ample feedback from peers or mentors who could help identify any areas of improvement or provide additional insight into how best to highlight relevant experiences. By beginning the MBA essay-writing process early on, you can get an edge over other applicants by ensuring your application stands out for its originality and quality. This will not only make your application stronger but will also create a lasting impression on admissions readers—something that could make the difference between getting accepted and being rejected.

Busts of famour leaders

Showcase Your Vulnerability

It’s often easy to think of leaders as untouchable, all-knowing beings who possess all the answers. To effectively demonstrate leadership in your MBA essays, start by showcasing your vulnerability. Admissions teams are looking for individuals who can lead by example and inspire others to follow their lead. Therefore, it’s crucial to show that you’re human, just like everyone else.

This involves acknowledging personal weaknesses and mistakes that you have experienced in the past, as well as demonstrating how those experiences have shaped your ability to lead with confidence and humility. Additionally, talking about any moments of self-reflection or growth when it comes to developing your leadership skills is a great way to demonstrate vulnerability. Don’t be afraid to talk openly and honestly about the challenges you’ve faced while attempting to develop yourself into a better leader; such stories will show admissions officers that you are not afraid to take risks and that you’re willing to accept constructive criticism.

Lastly, make sure to emphasize how these lessons have informed your current leadership style so that it’s clear you have come a long way since the moments of vulnerability. Doing so will show that you are confident and resilient in the face of any leadership challenges you may encounter in the future.

Emphasize On Your Strengths

When writing your MBA essays, focus on your strengths as they directly align with leadership. Enumerate how you have applied these strengths in your professional or personal life, and how you plan on utilizing them in your MBA program and beyond.

You should focus on the ways in which you have effectively managed teams or projects in the past, how you have demonstrated a capacity for creative problem-solving, and how you have successfully communicated with colleagues and stakeholders. Examples of such strengths could include motivating those around you to strive for excellence, inspiring others to work collaboratively towards a common goal, or making sound decisions quickly under pressure. Additionally, when discussing your achievements be sure to provide specific details rather than generalizations as this will help create a stronger case for your candidacy.

Demonstrate Selflessness

To stand out, showcase your willingness to serve those around you, rather than solely focusing on your achievements. Leaders who are selfless are often given the most significant tasks and responsibilities. Highlight your contributions to your workplace or the community at large, and how your actions helped those around you. Additionally, highlight how you seek out the opinions of those you lead in decision-making processes.

For example, you can highlight how you took initiative in organizing volunteer activities or encouraged a team to work together towards shared goals despite personal sacrifices. Other examples may include how you used your expertise and resources to help those less fortunate than you and how you were able to generate enthusiasm within a team even when faced with great challenges.

In addition to showcasing tangible examples of selfless leadership, your should also be sure to explain why you chose to act in a selfless manner. By writing about your motivation and thought process, you can better illustrate the depth of your character and commitment to serve others.

MBA applicant who has fully embrace her leadership skills in her essay

Make your essays thoroughly engaging

Writing MBA essays can be challenging as they can seem lengthy and uninteresting. To capture the attention of your reader and avoid rejection, it’s important to make your essays engaging and unique. One way to achieve this is by using wit and humour while remaining relevant and professional.

To make an MBA essay on leadership truly engaging, it is also important to focus on developing a well-structured argument that carefully considers both the practicalities and theory of leadership. Begin by outlining your main position regarding leadership, then use evidence from personal experience as well as examples from notable leaders in history to back up your arguments. Make sure to utilize data and research whenever possible, as well as provide clear explanations for why you believe your specific approach is effective.

Finally, don’t forget to include relevant anecdotes or stories that illustrate how the ideas discussed can be applied in real-world situations. By taking this comprehensive approach when writing MBA essays on leadership, readers will find them far more engaging and interesting than if they were simply a list of facts.

Another great way for your essays to be engaging is to avoid rambling and stay on course.You can achieve this by using the STAR method. The STAR acronym stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result; each word representing an aspect of a successful application essay. By considering these four components together when crafting essays, you can create an impactful narrative that highlights your individual accomplishments in a cohesive manner.

The Situation component describes the context and circumstances surrounding the accomplishment or experience being discussed in the essay; this includes when and where it occurred.

The Task outlines what was expected from you in regards to the situation at hand; here you explain what obstacles had to be overcome to reach success.

The Action portion details how you went about completing the task – including any strategies adopted – to reach the desired result.

Lastly, the Result part of the STAR method is where your write about what was achieved and you demonstrate why it was a success.

By following this format, you can effectively highlight your achievements while also exhibiting strong storytelling skills that will help set you apart from other candidates. Ultimately, utilizing the STAR method when crafting an essay ensures that both admissions officers receive a comprehensive overview of an your capabilities as well as how you approach difficult challenges in your work environment.

Leaders work well with teams

Show your leadership values

Leadership is more than just power and authority. It’s also about possessing crucial values like integrity, empathy, and accountability. In your MBA essay on leadership, showcase how you incorporate these values into your leadership style. For instance, share stories about times when you took initiative by initiating projects or solving problems. Talk about instances where you displayed strong communication skills in order to effectively collaborate with others. Showcase any moments where you demonstrated resilience while overcoming difficult challenges or tasks. All of these examples will help emphasize your leadership capacity and prove that you are prepared to take on the demands of an MBA program. By effectively conveying your leadership values and qualities, you can make a strong case for yourself as an ideal candidate for admissions.

Additionally, providing examples of how you have led in past experiences can also be beneficial to demonstrate your commitment to becoming a better leader. Talk about any opportunities or initiatives that you took part in that helped build up your skills such as joining student organizations, attending seminars and conferences, or participating in team projects. These activities help showcase your drive and capability to continue learning and growing which makes for an even more compelling essay.

Highlight your unique leadership style

Every person is different; similarly, every leader has a distinct style that suits them. Highlighting your leadership style in your MBA essay will show the admission committee how you differ from other applicants and your potential as a future leader. This can be done by discussing specific examples of occasions when you have demonstrated leadership qualities such as taking initiative in a difficult situation, demonstrating creativity and problem-solving skills, or displaying strong communication and interpersonal skills. You may also want to discuss how you have learned from mistakes or challenges which were difficult for you at first, but that you overcame successfully. Doing so will help demonstrate that you are self-aware and reflective about your own strengths and weaknesses as a leader. Highlighting these moments in your essay will give admissions officers a better understanding of the type of leader you are and how well you will fit into their program.

Show how you plan to grow as a leader

Your MBA program is an opportunity for you to grow into a better leader. So, use your MBA essay to show the admission committee how you plan to take your leadership skills to the next level. You can talk about the specific skills you want to learn or the challenges you want to take on in the program. This will demonstrate your eagerness to grow and be a standout leader in your field.

Female leader smiling with her team in the background

Examples of ways to demonstrate this could include discussing how taking courses related to leadership will help expand your knowledge and understanding of the topic, or how participating in professional development activities such as conferences and seminars can help hone existing abilities and develop new ones.

Additionally, showcasing examples from past experiences of when you have successfully navigated difficult situations by demonstrating strong leadership qualities can be a powerful way to demonstrate your commitment to improving yourself. These types of anecdotes provide a tangible example of the kind of growth you are willing to pursue and provide an opportunity for the admissions committee to envision you as a successful leader in the future.

By demonstrating your desire and ability to grow, you can show that you are serious about developing yourself as a leader and will be ready to take on any challenges that may come with it once enrolled in an MBA program.


Demonstrating your leadership skills effectively in your MBA essay on leadership is a must to stand out from other applicants. It’s not just about displaying how great or impressive you are, but rather how you can lead and add value to the MBA program and the business world. When you focus on your individual power and potential, your story can be empowering and engaging. Your journey has its own value, so share it when you are writing about leadership. Believe in yourself and have confidence in the story you want to tell. Make a memorable essay that showcases your leadership abilities and sets you apart from others. If you need further help with crafting your MBA essay, don’t forget to check out our MBA essay services. We’ll make sure your application essays show off the very best of who you are – taking your application to the next level! Got questions about the application process or would like to get a quick assessement of your existing draft? Sign up for a consultation or send us your draft for a free assessment, it’s FREE!

With a Master’s from McGill University and a Ph.D. from New York University, Philippe Barr is the founder of The Admit Lab. As a tenure-track professor, Philippe spent a decade teaching and serving on several graduate admission committees at UNC-Chapel Hill before turning to full-time consulting. With more than seven years of experience as a graduate school admissions consultant, Philippe has stewarded the candidate journey across multiple master’s and Ph.D. programs and helped hundreds of students get admitted to top-tier graduate programs all over the world.

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