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Describe with examples the most important personal quality that you possess which significantly enhances your prospects of being successful as a leader? (400 words max)
Before approaching an MBA application essay question, it is important to understand the school’s objective behind asking that question. ISB’s first essay prompt for this year is to identify that unique “most important” personal quality that you bring to the myriad diverse qualities that the cohort cumulatively will have.
The first obvious challenge is to identify that “one” quality that you would want to highlight. Identifying the quality will just be the first step though! The key challenge is that the quality will need to be backed by multiple credible and recent examples.
For the reader at ISB, who will be going through several essays, the examples should be strong enough to develop an instant connection. The best way to establish the identified quality is to “show” instead of to “say” that you are awesome at something. It will be important, therefore, to take the Situation-Task-Action-Result framework to drive home the point.
Examples of your identified personal qualities showcased/practiced at work or during college will help connect them with how you will leverage these qualities during and post ISB.
In an interview scenario, it opens a window for a constructive discussion leading to different leadership styles and the style you will follow. Knowing some leaders at work or outside and their qualities that influence you the most will also help.
The next challenge is to understand the difference as well as the overlap between personal and professional qualities. There is often a fine line between what is inherent and what’s acquired – and a personal quality can be either of them.
The key is to ask if the quality has “global applicability” versus its importance being limited to specific contexts.
Being “entrepreneurial” will mean you are someone who takes initiatives, don’t mind taking risks, and demonstrate a high level of ownership. Interestingly, your quality of being entrepreneurial has global applicability and doesn’t necessarily require you to have worked with a start-up or have started your own venture.
At the same time, there are certain skills that are personal but expected. Do not fall into the trap of showing how “committed” or “hardworking” you are. These are hygiene factors – you better be committed and hardworking if you are to make it to ISB and survive the rigorous year once you secure an admit.
Not always will you need to explicitly contextualize the content of Essay 1 with Essay 2 but remember that your effort and communication should add up.
The reader will appreciate and find you a more suitable candidate if they are able to mentally add up how your qualities will help you achieve your goals and career plans – especially coming in handy as you take up leadership roles in the future.
Surely, a lot to attend to through just 400 words, but a good time investment, planning, and effort can help you put together a strong essay.
ISB PGP Sample Essay Structure – Essay 1
Identify and isolate the quality that you would like to present
Present concrete and diverse examples of where you demonstrated the quality
Establish how the quality enhances your prospects of being a successful leader
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