MBA Sample Essay Question: Choose a recent experience in which you acted as a leader. Briefly outline the situation then describe your leadership role, how you were effective and what you learned.
My most significant leadership experience occurred during a recent Bain & Company project for a major telecom firm in Brazil. I was assigned to lead 25 client staff members—all of them much older than me—in evaluating the firm’s 584 dealers on a tight deadline. I must confess I was initially frightened by the task, since my peers would be counting on a recently arrived consultant.
Yet the team was excited about the project. To leverage this motivation, I delegated as much responsibility as possible. During one meeting, for instance, we were discussing what kind of information we needed from our dealers when one member claimed he would not be able to translate into practice the ideas I was proposing. Realizing that he would lose motivation if I simply told him what to do, I let him design the part of the evaluation sheet he was complaining about. He did a great job and became one of the team’s most active members.
To follow our progress closely, I divided the project into four parts. After each part was completed, I evaluated the results and reported them to the group. Moreover, I always encouraged my peers to celebrate their achievements. Combining these incentives allowed me to show them that, although their performance had been fine, they needed to make an even greater effort to complete the project successfully.
I quickly earned the respect of the team: members often asked for my opinion and informed me about the latest results. I believe that this development was largely due to my ability to recognize that people do their best when they share responsibility for the outcome of a project. More importantly, I discovered that successful leadership is closely related to the capacity to motivate others through clear and continuous communication.