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Writing an Effective Leadership Essay: Tips and Examples

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Whether you’ve led a horse to water or led your team to a victorious championship, you’re probably more of a leader than you give yourself credit for. It turns out, college admissions officers want to hear about that horse and/or championship in your application essay. The leadership essay is one of the hallmarks of college essays, but what’s the right way to do it?

What Is a Leadership Essay?

A leadership essay is a subset of college application essays that help college admissions officers understand your previous experiences as a leader. While that might seem extremely specific, it comes with the understanding that leadership looks and feels different based on the person and situation.

To give you a real world example: The president is ostensibly the leader of the United States. However, the president has a whole cabinet of other leaders for every other aspect of running a country. You might not be a leader of foreign policy, but you might be a leader on the football field or within your community volunteer group.

Leadership Essay Ideas and Topics

While you might see a few variations, almost all leadership essays go back to two main forms:

  • What is your leadership style?
  • Describe a moment when you showed leadership.

There’s inherently a bit of overlap with both of these. You’ll likely give an example of a leadership moment when talking about your leadership style, and you’ll probably talk about your leadership style when talking about a leadership moment.

In either case, the school will want you to use anecdotal evidence that demonstrates the idea. Go with what feels right, whether that’s leading a club or team in school or leading some ducklings across a busy highway. Even if your experience sounds cliché, it’s unique because it involves you.

How To Write a Leadership Essay

Probably the biggest trap that people fall into is “Well, I’ve never been a leader.” Even if you’ve never held some sort of leadership position at school or had an official title, chances are pretty high that you have exhibited some form of leadership at some point in your life. Beyond that, the actual writing of the leadership essay is fairly straightforward.

Formatting Your Leadership Essay

Your leadership essay will include an introduction paragraph, one or more body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Depending on the word or page limits, you can almost treat this like a five-paragraph essay .

  • Introduction - Capture the reader’s interest, define good leadership in relation to you, and directly address the given prompt
  • Body paragraphs - Give some background information using anecdotes to describe your leadership style or moment
  • Conclusion - End with a compelling statement about your leadership qualities and how you hope to apply them to your education, career, and the world in general

How Long Should a Leadership Essay Be?

The length of the leadership essay depends on what the college or application system says. Thankfully, this is the one part of the essay that you don’t need to question. Nearly every school will provide a word limit, typically ranging from 250 words (for supplemental essays) potentially all the way up to 1,000 words.

In the rare event that you don’t see an obvious word limit, stick to a maximum of about 500 to 600 words.

Tips for Writing a Leadership Essay

Unfortunately, we don’t know your personal life, and we certainly don’t know moments where you exhibited leadership. So we can’t write your essay for you, but we can give you some tips to at least guide your writing process.

Define Good Leadership Before You Start

Before you begin writing your essay, think about what qualities make someone a good leader, at least in your opinion. What great leadership qualities do you have? What makes a “good leader”? Make a list before you begin writing your essay. 

Leadership qualities can include:

  • The ability to motivate others
  • Personal integrity
  • Placing a value on relationships with team members
  • Prioritizing the larger good over any individual

Review your list and choose the qualities you want to highlight. Write your own definition of what makes someone a great leader as it relates to the quality you chose. It should be one or two sentences long. Use that definition as the backbone of your essay.

Tell a Story About Your Leadership

It’s time to turn that list of potential leadership qualities into something meaningful and interesting. The best way to do that is with an engaging narrative.

You should obviously state good leadership qualities, but that shouldn’t be your entire essay. Tell a story about your leadership.

  • Did you face a specific challenge?
  • How did you overcome that challenge?
  • How has your leadership style changed over the years?
  • Was there a specific moment or experience that caused that change?

Really ask yourself questions and dig into the concept of leadership as a real thing that has had real effects on your life.

Write With Your Own Voice and Style

Although you shouldn’t be super informal in college application essays, they are also designed to help you display your own voice and personality. College admissions officers want to learn about you, and your writing style is inherently a big part of that, whether that means using humor or puns, maintaining a unique level of sincerity throughout the essay, or being invitingly verbose.

Don’t Be Down On Yourself

Whether it’s your personal statement , a supplemental essay, or this leadership essay, avoid being too down on yourself. Admissions officers want to hear about all your successes, trophies, and kittens saved from trees. They really don’t want to read a whole essay about you saying you’re a bad leader.

Humility is definitely an important leadership trait, but there’s a fine line between being humble and being hurtful to yourself. Even if you’re normally prone to some self-deprecation, try to keep it at a minimum for this essay.

Leadership Essay Example

If you’re not sure where to start, take some time to brainstorm ideas. Even the weirdest idea can blossom into something neat. If you need inspiration, one of the best things is to look at other examples of leadership. That could be from your favorite show, a good nonfiction book about sailors, or the essay below.

full text essay example with labeled parts restated from the article

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Leadership Essay Introduction Example

The introduction should pull the reader in while directly answering the prompt. When in doubt, try to start with something concrete over something abstract. Or as writers and writing teachers like to say: Show, don’t tell.

The room was filled with the gentle hum of microphones and video cameras, cut only by the occasional cough or cleared throat. It was easy to feel out of place in this room full of wood furniture, leather seats, and powerful men capable of changing not just my life, but an entire sector of television programming as we knew it. I had never thought of myself as a leader, but I also knew that this was about something bigger than me, something that I could actually influence.

Leadership Essay Body Example

The body is where you’ll get more into the details of your narrative and connect it to ideas of leadership. Try not to get too hung up on the exact wording of what makes a leader. That can get far too abstract. Let your story speak for you.

I took a deep breath and began to talk. I wasn’t known to have a particularly commanding or powerful voice, but people always seemed to listen, including these men with their name placards and tall seats. They had been ready to cut funding for public broadcasting, which included programming that they had never seen. I was simply someone who lived in a neighborhood and cared about children’s education, beyond just math and reading. All I could do was be honest.

Leadership Essay Conclusion Example

Your conclusion considers the broader effects of your leadership. How might your leadership evolve or change? How can you apply that leadership to your education, job, or community?

To me, leadership is about connection. I know that I have a voice and an immense dedication to emotional intelligence in children. My ability to focus on other people goes hand-in-hand with my ability to speak through a tiger puppet. Both are about closing gaps and bringing people closer to a basic understanding. I hope to use my leadership abilities within the field of psychology to build more connections between people and communities.

Tex Admissions

Leadership Short Answer Example Essays

That's me, third from the left.

That's me, third from the left.

Update: Check out these UT Fall 2020 Leadership Short Answer Examples!

I wasn't what you would call a typical leader in high school. We were notorious high school sports hooligans.

If we had to write this prompt when I was applying to UT, I probably would have talked about covering our bodies in house paint and spray painting letters in support of our school's Men's Basketball Regional Semi-Finals in Waco. Our parents weren't too pleased.

UT wants you to discuss in 250-300 words your Leadership experiences and how you see yourself as a leader on campus.

>How do you show leadership in your life? How do you see yourself being a leader at UT Austin?

I provide tips and strategies in this previous post , and here I reproduce seven submissions students and I worked on. 

Leadership Short Answer: Working with the Visually Challenged

“You can do it. I will help you!” Those words cemented a special bond with Jeeva, a visually impaired young man. We accidentally collided one day in a crowded library. Overcome with guilt, I treated him to ice cream at a nearby kiosk. Jeeva was worried stiff about an upcoming diploma exam, so I offered to help. Our spontaneous encounter was the best part of my summer break! I cherish those next ten days that we spent studying.
Tutoring others is my favorite way to learn because it solidifies my knowledge while allowing me to see how others solve problems using different methods. I read aloud to him, summarized key ideas, and we discussed concepts. I realized that Jeeva listens much better than me. At times it seemed like he could anticipate and even read my thoughts just by the tone of my voice. He worked hard, and we both felt more confident about the material. Encouraged by his commitment, I recorded mp3 lessons that he could listen to and review.
I felt a sense of purpose working with Jeeva. The joy in lending my eyes through reading, the challenge in describing objects and material things I took for granted, the satisfaction of transcribing his notes led me to a volunteering organization. I have since spent over 50 hours helping other visually-challenged children and young adults like Jeeva. I also encouraged and facilitated my cousins to volunteer their time helping the visually-challenged. Jeeva is now a teaching assistant at a school.
At UT-Austin, I wish to volunteer my time with the Texas Technology Access Program to design devices for the visually challenged. I believe I can create devices that can anticipate the challenges faced by people with disabilities and that can facilitate simple yet effective steps to prevent injuries.

There are two basic ways to approach this prompt - discussing one or a few experiences. This essay is an excellent example how focusing on one experience can provide more depth to your profile and add context to your resume.

Focusing on one topic allows you to tell a story and illustrate your leadership qualities rather than dividing your essay between two or three examples. Telling their story with Jeeva personalizes their essay in a way that many "service/volunteering" essays fail to do.

The prompt requires that you suggest how you see yourself as a leader on campus. They do an excellent job identifying a niche organization that directly relates to their previous experiences and career ambitions in electrical/computer engineering.

Interested in writing your best essays? Complete my questionnaire for a free admissions consultation.

Leadership Short Answer: Rocketry Group Projects

I have demonstrated leadership through my technical activities. My resume and extracurricular activities are well-rounded, but I focus on engineering-oriented activities. I enjoy solving technical challenges, and we always compete in groups. I often take the lead in helping direct the overall vision of our efforts. I enjoy coordinating group members to capitalize on everyone’s strengths and minimizing our overall weaknesses. My experience as a co-captain and captain for the TARC Rocketry Challenge Club suggests that I have a track record for accomplishing our goals. I also like taking complex topics and distilling down the most important parts to explain to new members crucial concepts in simple ways.
I have also completed three internships in different engineering fields. My experiences expose me to different professionals, and I take small lessons from each environment and employ them in my life. I see that engineering in the real world also depends on groups, so I recognize the importance of being an effective team plater. I also created an after-school engineering club for like-minded students to discuss current events and the latest technological developments. I see myself continuing my efforts when I enroll at UT. I want to contribute to classroom discussions and join relevant organizations so I can continue exploring my interests and connecting with interesting people.

This essay takes the second approach, discussing more than one activity. They spend the first half of the essay sharing their favorite activity and organization. It directly relates to their first choice major, Aerospace Engineering.

The first half is a great combination of highlighting teamwork and problem solving abilities while suggesting that they have the interests and curiosities required to succeed in college.

The second paragraph references a few different leadership experiences including internships and founding their own organization. It's okay that they don't develop their ideas too thoroughly because it signals to their reviewer to pay close attention to their expanded resume where they elaborate on their commitments.

Leadership Short Answer: HOSA and Public Speaking

I remember hesitating outside the health science classroom before my first HOSA meeting freshman year. I felt unsure if my time and efforts would be worth committing myself to such a large club. I took a breath and entered.
Before my freshman year, public speaking terrified me. Confronting my fears rather than avoiding them, I registered for HOSA’s “Researched Persuasive Writing and Speaking” competition. I felt foolish competing in an event that showcases my weakest skills. Months before the first round of competition, I began drafting my speech. I practiced for weeks, refining my text, recording my voice, and presenting to the bathroom mirror.
I timidly arrived at the competition, and some senior competitors exacerbated my already stretched nerves by picking on me. When my turn came, I executed my speech exactly as I had dozens of times alone. I felt comfortable with my performance; finishing without embarrassing myself was good enough for me. I listened passively to the award ceremony, and felt shocked when they announced “Second place, Ram Visha!”
I ambled up to the stage, my heart trying to escape from my chest, in a mixed state of wonder and pride in my accomplishment. Aside from my newfound interest in public speaking, I have learned that if you put yourself out there and give your best efforts, trusting in the process will help you grow.
To me, leadership means the courage to overcome your fears, learn from failure, and inspire others to do the same. Serving as an Officer for my school’s HOSA Chapter, National Honor Society Chapter, and Band, I do everything I can to ensure the success of the organization I lead and its members. I will continue these positive habits as I transition to a leader on UT’s campus.

This is another effective example how focusing on your most memorable activity or experience allow you to illustrate a story that indirectly demonstrates your leadership qualities. Anytime you can share a story rather than simply telling your reviewer how you're a leader is preferable.

They use their Leadership short answer as an opportunity to show how they overcame adversity and converted a weakness into a strength. Discussing HOSA also relates to their first choice major of Biology with a pre-med interest.

They round their essay out well identifying specific opportunities on UT's campus that appeals to them.

Pick up your copy of the definitive guide to UT-Austin admissions Your Ticket to the Forty Acres

Leadership Short Answer: Family, Community, Founder

I am the oldest of three siblings, and I strive to set a positive example for my younger brother and sister. Early in my mother’s battle with Leukemia, I did chores without asking, and they began emulating my behavior. We tried our best to relieve some of the stress in our family. I am proud of starting a local “Lick Leukemia” walk in support of my mother and another family friend who both have leukemia. It is a community effort, and we project to raise $10,000 this year.
At school, I founded our Investment Club. I have grown this into our school’s most popular student ran and funded the organization. I also co-founded our school’s Model U.N., which was the only first-year group at the state competition to win an award. My classmates elected me as Treasurer of our student body where I am responsible for keeping monetary records and handling funds.
On the field, I won the starting quarterback job during my sophomore year after having not played since fifth grade. I led our team to the second round of the playoffs, our first trip in five years.
I will continue serving as a leader in college. You only get one shot at college, and I want to have meaningful experiences helping others. I am excited to work alongside like-minded, driven, service-oriented Longhorns. I want to join the Texas Blazers service organization and Capital Community. I hope to start a business-specific organization. During my visit to Austin, I attended a service at First English Lutheran Church and met a UT student involved with University Campus Ministry. I look forward to reconnecting with him and learning ways to continue my ministry work.

This essay is a great example how you can discuss more than one activity or experience. Instead of simply stating that their mother fought cancer, they take it a step further how they advocated and raised money to help other families. It's also a good example how you can be a leader at home or in your family and not just in formal extracurricular activities.

They eventually gained admission to McCombs Business, so highlighting their founding of an Investment Club relates to their first choice major. Reviewers look for Leadership experience and students who are well-rounded, so touching on a few other Leadership roles is an effective way to make this argument.

Sharing a visit to campus is a great way to answer Why UT is a great fit for you. They paint a full portrait of how they see themselves as a leader on campus and no doubt their reviewer had a favorable impression after reading this and their other essays.

Leadership Short Answer: Winless JV Lacrosse Season

Zero wins and twelve losses. Our coach referred to our Junior Varsity lacrosse team as “quite possibly the most unathletic group he’s ever coached.” As team captain, classmates questioned, and teammates held me accountable for our historically-poor performance. We were mostly sophomores and juniors, and I agree with our coach’s bleak assessment. We didn’t have the size, strength, speed, or experience to compete. I could have answered people’s condescension with negativity, but I instead responded with the opposite. I told them about everything that went right.
We went into every game believing that we could win, and with each successive, sometimes last-second loss, our confidence collapsed, and our morale dropped. Rather than letting each loss carry over to next week’s practice, I took the initiative to challenge my teammates and encourage them to keep working hard. Surprisingly, we didn’t argue much, and I can confidently say that we walked into every game with a winning mentality. It can be easy to become negative, but I think my optimism helped our team come close in many games. In some ways, we outperformed expectations even if that didn’t show up on the scoreboard.
I pride myself on keeping my head held high no matter how tough the situation. It’s easy to be a leader on winning teams. It’s much more difficult to lead perennial losers. I lead through kindness, motivation, and conscientiousness. At UT Austin, I plan to lead a student organization that focuses on fortifying the morale of struggling students. Mental health issues are a big concern on college campuses. I want to be an advocate for struggling students to help alleviate these anxieties and pressures. I trust that my ability to lift people up from pessimistic positions will be a crucial measure of my years at UT.

This is one of my favorite short answer submissions from any that I worked with. It's kind of an opposite-leadership response. It's easy to say you're a leader in a state championship band or a nationally competitive robotics team. It's another thing entirely to maintain a positive attitude, continue going to practice, and giving your best effort when you're on a team clearly lacking talent.

They take a nuanced perspective to winning, losing, and competition. Implicitly, they demonstrate characteristics like maturity, patience, and resilience. I particularly like their Why UT statement connecting their own struggles with wanting to volunteer with UT Mental Health Services.

It's an outstanding example how, at first glance, an experience that may have few redeeming qualities for admissions reviewers can be reframed into a very powerful statement about your personality and ability to handle setbacks. 

Interested in building your best application? Complete my questionnaire for a free admissions consultation.

Leadership: Sports and DECA

I am most proud of my athletic leadership. Unlike research, communication, and the social sciences, sports don’t come as naturally. I played on Anderson’s junior varsity football team, and I took to heart the coach’s emphasis on leading by example. Our football team wasn’t very good and, with morale low, I made it a point to take the lead on sprints and drills. I wasn’t always the most athletic, but I was one of the coach’s favorites because I tried my hardest. I had to compensate against other naturally talented and experienced players.
My fondest memory from high school was when I recovered a fumble during our spring game. The whole defense came off the sideline and started celebrating like I had won the game! Despite my fleeting moment of glory, I realized football isn’t for me. I played golf during my sophomore and junior year. I always stayed after practice to hit by myself no matter how many blisters had broken open. Soon, my teammates looked to me for advice often alongside my lighthearted teasing.
At Anderson, I competed in DECA business finance events. I was elected officer but couldn’t serve since we moved to Singapore, but as a member, I created study guides and tip sheets to help chapter members prepare for competitions. Currently, I am an officer in my international school’s Business Club. I teach members about investing while organizing guest speakers and business projects in collaboration with school faculty.
At UT Austin, I want to join the Computational Finance club and the Undergraduate Investment Team, where I can learn more about quantitative analysis and apply my financial theory knowledge to manage portfolios. I can continue my service past high school by joining UT’s Alpha Phi Omega chapter and give back to Austin.

What's interesting about this submission is what this student chose not to share. Their resume was outstanding and undoubtedly one of the strongest in the applicant pool even for Business Honors where they eventually gained admission. At first, I was unsure about their choice to discuss sports, but after working through a few drafts, I saw their point of view and reasoning for discussing football.

Playing JV football and recovering a fumble in the spring game was probably at the bottom of their resume and would otherwise be unremarkable. They committed their other essays to a few more prominent activities. By focusing on their area of most improvement - athletics - they provide a different dimension to their application than if they had discussed their more obvious leadership activities.

They balance out their prompt citing a few examples to demonstrate their interests and competencies in Business and illustrate effectively how they see themselves as a leader in UT's Finance community.

Leadership: Hosting a Film Festival

During Spring 2017, I was chosen to be the Director of the Second-Annual Pegasus Film Festival. Over a hundred DFW-area high school students entered their short films in a jury-judged competition. The top twenty-two films were screened at the Studio Movie Grill in Richardson to an audience of over 300 industry professionals, friends, and family. A Q&A with the filmmakers concluded the evening.
My film teacher recognized my ability to visualize the desired outcome, plan a timeline, and complete a large project in a timely fashion. She trusted that I could complete a large task with many moving parts and execute the event smoothly. Given the complexity and magnitude of the festival, I had to engage, encourage, and communicate with my team, the student filmmakers, the community, sponsors, our venue, and industry professionals to make our vision a reality.
Booker T is a community of artists, creative revolutionaries really, but artists tend to get bogged down in the details and fail to finish projects. People who can complete projects are a precious commodity. Managing artists can be like herding cats, temperamental, scratching cats. I hosted many meetings with festival volunteers to build our vision and coordinate roles and responsibilities. I strived to communicate effectively with my peers. Everyone has their own ideas and opinions on the best way to do things. With some advice from my friends and trusted faculty, I incorporated their suggestions to create an agreeable style. Conceding changes and allowing volunteers to “make it their own” really improved morale and performance.
I learned that leadership is a fluid exercise, always changing, and accommodating others to elicit their best ideas and efforts. I intend to continue my efforts in artistic and technology organizations at UT-Austin and the annual South by SouthWest exposition.

I like this essay because it focus on a specific event that showcases their leadership abilities. It's rich in detail showing their specific roles, responsibilities, and challenges for hosting a successful film festival. They do an effective job of quantifying how many people attended, how many films they screened, and how many people they coordinated to host the event.

Their essay focuses less on how they see themselves as a leader at UT, but by telling their story, they implicitly answer the question. It's preferable to provide specific, concrete examples to support their points rather than simply asserting that they're an effective communicator or team player.

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Leadership Essay: What To Write To Put Your Best Foot Forward

EssayEdge > Blog > Leadership Essay: What To Write To Put Your Best Foot Forward

Because schools are looking for applicants who will make a contribution, it is becoming increasingly common for programs to specifically ask for essays on leadership. In this type of essay, the admissions officers are asking you to go beyond your resume, CV or activities list and provide them with a meaningful example that not only demonstrates your skills as a leader but reflects your values, ability to manage setbacks, and resilience in overcoming dilemmas. Therefore, I created these tips to guide you in writing the kind of leadership essay that will help you get noticed in the admissions process.

Table of Contents:

Choose an anecdote where you played a significant role

If you haven’t decided how to write a leadership essay. Your best anecdote may not necessarily be one where you were at the helm. Just because you didn’t have the title of President, Coordinator or Leader doesn’t mean that you didn’t take a strong leadership role in the project. The admissions officers are looking for results, and that means a situation where you were able to ensure outcomes, overcome obstacles, foster team cohesiveness, and exceed expectations. When brainstorming for your leadership essay, think more about the criteria of leadership rather than the title. The title and introduction to leadership essay will come up in your mind as soon as you understand what you want to write about.

Tackle dilemmas

An essay where you were in charge and everything went smoothly doesn’t make for the most compelling narrative. Instead, focus on anecdotes where you had to face tough choices. This could refer to interpersonal situations regarding assigning tasks, making budgetary decisions that might have displeased certain team members or even superiors, navigating contract negotiations between parties that did not trust each other or even dealing with unethical behaviors. Show the admissions officers that you can persevere despite setbacks and find a way forward to realize success in your endeavors.

Acknowledge the contribution of others

This is the most common pitfall that I see in leadership essays. Yes, a personal statement should be personal. However, when writing about leadership, it is impossible to demonstrate this if you write as if no one else was part of the situation. Be gracious in giving praise to team members for their insights, loyalty, and hard work. Let the admissions officers envision you as someone who can inspire others to collaborate and work as a cohesive whole to achieve common goals.

Need help? Check out EssayEdge editing services:

Highlight organization skills and interpersonal acumen

Depending on your personality type and individual leadership style, applicants tend to focus on either the technical aspects of leadership or the more interpersonal ones. In creating your leadership essay, remember to include both in a way that is as balanced as possible. Usually, I will recommend applicants write an opening paragraph that sets the stage, a paragraph about technical aspects such as assigning tasks and coordinating resources, a third paragraph that discusses obstacles encountered in the project, and then a concluding paragraph. The two middle paragraphs should be approximately the same length. By following this basic outline, applicants are sure to cover all bases and formulate a leadership essay that has a strong logical flow from start to finish.

Check some leadership application essay examples to understand what exactly has to be written in your paper.

Reflect on what you would have done differently

If, given the opportunity to do it again, you would have done everything exactly the same, I would advise writing about a different situation. Anecdotes where everything works out perfectly don’t typically provide the admissions officers with the information that they need to help them make a choice about your application. They will want you to engage in self-reflection either in the penultimate paragraph or the concluding paragraph. The admissions officers want to see both growth and willingness to grow. For this reason, be sure to discuss ways that you would like to continue to develop your personal leadership style so that you will be a more prepared and effective leader in the future.

Make a difference. That’s what you should do to be sure that your essay will be noticed by the admissions board. The combination of your writing skills and our guidelines must help you craft a winning paper. Keep in mind that you can always find an assistant on our essay proofreading service, trust proofreading them, and submit a high-quality leadership essay.

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Leadership Essay

27 August, 2020

12 minutes read

Author:  Richard Pircher

As a college student, you must write essays on a regular basis since the latter is one of the most common types of home assignments. All this means is that in order to get good grades and be successful with writing the papers, you need to have a sound understanding of the structure. Additionally, what you should never neglect is the variety of essay types. Indeed, your essay will significantly differ from one type to another: description essay will most likely have a structure that is slightly different from an argumentative one.

Leadership Essays

What you may have already encountered in your academic life is the work on a leadership essay. Although it sounds pretty complicated and vague, it is mostly possible to master an essay on leadership. Below is a guide for you to get an insight into this particular essay type.

What is a good leadership essay?

A good leadership essay is the one in which the essay writer has fully covered the topic of leadership and understood its core ideas. More specifically, to end up with a flawless leadership essay, you will need to indicate what makes a person a good leader. For achieving the latter, you will most likely need to conduct research and trace how a particular person reaches his or her goals. In other words, the task is to discover which actions the person undertakes, what their followers say about him or her, and how the person organizes the work. So, a leadership essay implies providing real-life success examples and further revealing them.

Above all, a good leadership essay is the one that follows a precise, clear, comprehensive structure. Structuring your essay about leadership in the most coherent way leads to a win-win situation: you have fewer troubles and barriers to writing a brilliant essay, and your teacher is able to comprehend the essay easily. This guide is what you will need to refer to to get an insight into how the flawless structure for a leadership essay looks like and how it will let you take a benefit.

How to write a Leadership essay?

To write a leadership essay that stands out, you first need to brainstorm all the ideas that you have and come up with a topic for your essay. If you are struggling with this step, you may think of some of the most influential people, read about them, and find out what makes them unique. Or, you can pick any topic which is mentioned at the end of this article. After you have chosen an issue, it is time to structure your essay appropriately.

how to write a leadership essay example

As you already know, an essay constitutes three essential sections: introduction, main body, and conclusion. Below is the more detailed description of each of the parts.


Of course, your leadership essay introduction will always vary depending on the topic of the essay. However, you can always begin by stating your vision of leadership regardless of the topic. Additionally, to motivate the reader and instantly catch his or her attention, you may use a quote of a famous leader, or simply a quote which you find relevant to the topic. Be aware that you should avoid outlining the essence and the role of the leadership in your introduction; leave it for the body paragraphs.

What you may also do in your leadership essay is ask a question, which will most likely intrigue the leader. Or it will at least give your reader an overview of what you will dwell on  in your essay.

Body Paragraphs

You will need to divide the main body into 3-5 paragraphs to make the structure more comprehensive. What you have to do at this point  is  give your reader a sound understanding of your ideas. Therefore, try to fit each idea in a single body paragraph so that you do not confuse your reader. Do not hesitate to indicate your examples to strengthen your arguments. For instance, you may explain a fact that makes a particular person you are writing about a real leader.

Also, always stick to your thesis statement and don’t forget that the body paragraphs should reveal the parts of your thesis statement.

As you may already know, you need to restate your opinion and briefly summarize all the points from the main body in conclusion. For instance, if you wrote your essay on qualities of an effective leader, state the most fundamental qualities and indicate why they matter the most. Besides, try not to copy what you have already written in the body – it is better to restate your opinion using different words. And, of course, beware adding any new and extra information; indicate only those points that you have already outlined in the text. Finally, keep in mind that it is always favorable to keep your concluding remarks short.

leadership essay

Leadership Essay Examples

Writing a leadership essay requires some research and time. In case you feel the necessity to go through an essay example, below is a leadership essay sample you can refer to.

Is leadership an inborn or an acquired feature?

Is everyone capable of becoming a leader, or is this ability innate? A lot of researchers have been struggling to answer this question. One assumption about leadership implies that the leader is the person who possesses particular characteristics. Another assumption claims that leaders are capable of acquiring specific features over their life span. As the evidence shows, leaders own many features that distinguish them among others and make more and more people become their followers. These might be cognitive abilities, psychological traits, professional qualities, and a lot more, and all of them will be either acquired or innate. Based on the importance of leadership qualities, such as commitment, stress resistance, and the ability to make quality decisions, it is reasonable to claim that leaders are made, not born. 

One can deem commitment as one of the top fundamental qualities of the leader. In essence, such a feature indicates that a person is passionate about the common goal, strives to be a team player, and makes every effort to reach a shared goal. As the history shows, none of the successful companies was uncoordinated by an influential, committed leader: Apple, Amazon, Microsoft – all of these companies are examples of dominant teams led by a dedicated leader. A committed leader also inspires his or her team to achieve common goals and put more effort into the shared activity. Besides, commitment is unlikely to be an innate feature; it instead comes with experience. This is so, since commitment implies dedicating oneself to the shared task, and one can reach it only via learning and continuous self-improvement.

Stress resistance is another incredibly important feature that every good leader should possess. This is because only a stress-resistant leader has sufficient capabilities to overcome any complexity and not let the anxiety and stress prevent him or her from making proper decisions. Besides, such a leader will most likely have a positive influence on the team, as long as leading by example will motivate the team members to attain the same emotional stability. What is so far familiar about stress resistance as an effective leader’s feature is that it can be either innate or attained. However, although some researchers admit that emotional stability is something one is born with, it is not entirely true; many people still put a great effort into self-improvement, changing the attitude to unfortunate situations, and so on. Therefore, being resistant to stress can be mostly attributed to a personality.

An ability to make high-quality decisions most likely determines the chances for an enterprise’s success. In particular, such quality is incredibly fundamental for a company of any size and professional orientation. Additionally, it is one of the top tasks of a good leader to make final decisions. What he or she should do implies brainstorming, discussing various opinions in the group, making forecasts, analyzing all the pros and cons. However, the leader is the one to make a final decision. Thereby, he is in charge of researching the market, discovering all the hidden truths, and analyzing the organization’s potential and capabilities to result in the most effective decision. As it flows logically from the latter, an ability to make sound quality decisions is purely a professional quality. This leads to the conclusion that one has to work hard to become a genuine leader and master the skill of making effective decisions. 

Overall, the leader may possess a multitude of different skills and master them perfectly. However, what has so far become transparent is that any leader, regardless of which team he leads, must possess three essential qualities. These qualities are commitment to the common goal, ability to handle and resist stress, and, finally, an ability to make effective decisions. All of the three qualities are most likely to be acquired over a lifetime. The statement below leads to the conclusion that even though some qualities can be innate, most are not the ones that leaders are born with. Hence, this answers an essential question: leadership feature is acquired, and not necessarily inborn.  

20 leadership essay topics

When coming up with your next leadership essay topic, it is imperative to brainstorm ideas and think of what leadership might be related to. If you are struggling with a topic of the importance of leadership essay or any relevant type of essay, you may quickly take a look at some of the possible topics we prepared for you:

  • What are the main qualities of the leader?
  • Successful Time Management as a feature of an effective leader
  • The role that rhetoric plays in leadership
  • The most exceptional leader in the history of the 20-th century
  • The role of female leadership
  • What are the challenges of the leader of the 21-st century?
  • How college helps students develop leadership skills?
  • Qualities of the leader that motivate people to follow them 
  • Top things to avoid doing to become a team leader
  • Examples of effective and ineffective leadership in the history
  • Top techniques for developing leadership skills
  • The interconnection of creativity and leadership 
  • Is a university’s role fundamental in developing leadership skills?
  • Dictatorship as an anti-example of leadership
  • Liberal vs Authoritative leadership: which one works better?
  • The influence of the leader’s role model on the followers’ mindset
  • Main difficulties that the new leader may face in a new team
  • Leadership of today vs leadership of the past: what has changed?
  • Reasons why I want to become a member if the leadership program
  • The role of cognitive abilities for the leader 

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  • Winning Leadership Essay Examples and Writing Tips

Winning Leadership Essay Examples and Writing Tips

What is a Good Leadership Essay?

What is effective leadership, writing essay on leadership qualities, how to write a leadership essay, leadership essay introduction, how to write the body paragraphs to leadership essay, leadership essay conclusion, 10 burning leadership essay topics, leadership essay sample, more examples of leadership essay, 1. how to write a leadership essay about yourself, 2. what is transformational leadership, 3. what is a short leadership essay.

A good leadership essay should include your own definition of leadership unlike a response essay . Also, express your views on how people become leaders. And don't forget to mention how society can benefit from its leaders. You need to outline essential leader qualities as you see them. Analyze the phenomenon from several distinctive perspectives. Feel free to use literary sources as an inspiration for your essay.

The definition of effective leadership had changed numerous times during human history. Most modern societies agree upon the most evident traits: 1. A leader knows how to preserve and increase the resources of the social group. 2. Effective leadership ensures that the common goals of the group will be reached. And the majority of the group will be satisfied with the results.  A true leader is an effective staff manager, smart businessman, and a good speaker.

You need to understand what makes a good leader before starting a leadership paper. Exploring this issue in detail may be time-consuming. That's why it will be much easier to pick some essential qualities listed below: 

  • Ability to inspire
  • Decision-making ability
  • Positive influence
  • Accountability
  • Ability to delegate
  • Transparency
  • Communication skills
  • Emotional intelligence

This case study should provide you with some traits and essential features. Let us proceed and explore top leadership essay writing requirements in detail.

If you need to write a leadership paper, but you have never done it before... Then check the comprehensive leadership essay guide below. It will help you to write a great paper.

Don’t know how to start a leadership essay? First of all, you need to come up with an intro and thesis. Good hooks for essays  and thesis statements are the two key features of any essay. Those are your primary ideas — make sure to compose them well. Both the hook and thesis statement have to be logical, convincing, and clear. The hook (up to 1-2 sentences) should grab the reader’s attention immediately. Here are some ideas:

  • Tell an anecdote . Laughter motivates reading more.
  • A quote : something from literature or said by well-known personas.
  • Ask a question about the role of leadership. You can answer it at the end or just leave it open.
  • Include an interesting fact or definition of “ leadership ”. It ought to be connected to the topic.
  • There are other hook types a writer can use. Didn’t find anything positive? Feel free to contact the writing service or check out our article about the funniest homework answers. 

Another important intro part is a thesis statement . It is your #1 idea that you are going to support through the text (only one sentence). It should be strong and debatable to set the tone of your leadership paper.

Consider this guide to writing body paragraphs:

  • Try including an argument and some evidence to support it in every paragraph. Use stronger words to show your personal skills as a true leader. Have you ever written an essay about yourself ? It may come in handy.
  • Outline the structure of body paragraphs. It is better to put your strongest argument in the first paragraph.
  • Add appropriate facts, anecdotes, and infographics examples . Writing about essential changes that true leaders make? Fetch an example of famous people’s influence on society.
  • Don’t forget the references to your thesis statement in each paragraph. Your goal is to show your ideas’ importance! But leadership paper’s key points will seem vague without reference to the point.
  • Include a topic outline in every paragraph of your paper. The top objective is to explain to readers what is going to be discussed in your text. Divide these traits into 3-4 paragraphs when you are describing leader qualities. Each of the topic sentences will present a new trait.
  • Share your experience. Don’t hesitate to talk about your life in the leadership essay. Sometimes we don’t know how valuable our experience can be. Have you ever run a successful event? Or performed in front of a big audience? Describe it!
  • Discuss only one main idea per paragraph. If there are too many ideas, the paper will be messy. This will have a negative impact on its readability in the end.
  • Make sure to cite all the borrowed ideas to avoid plagiarism.
  • Add transitional sentences — they make paragraphs easier to read.

Do your own research! Find more hints on writing a leadership essay. You can also consider contacting a writing service to get some help. In any case, there are more useful hints you need to check out. So just read further!

Here we have gathered several tips on how to end a leadership essay . Find hints on leadership paper conclusion below.

  • Include a brief overview of the entire essay. For instance, you are stating the importance of time management for a leader. Review key ideas and state why managing time matters.
  • Restate your key idea, i.e., thesis statement. But don't repeat them using the same words every time. Use synonyms as much as possible without losing the general sense.
  • Don’t present any new information in conclusion. All the terms must be defined in the intro or the body paragraphs.
  • Return to theme from the introduction. If you asked a provocative question there, you could answer it here.  
  • Give your audience a broader picture of leadership. Show how it can be interpreted on many levels.
  • Make your conclusion relatively short. A good ending should be neither too long nor too short: between 5-7 sentences. It’s best to finish with a nice outline than to bore your reader with long talks.

A conclusion is the part of the essay where you sum up all of your statements. It has to be less emotive and more logical. Keep those rules in mind when you write a conclusion. 

Many leadership paper topics can be challenging to discuss. Yet, students will never lack a variety of excellent topics. The issue of leadership can be researched in different contexts - business, studies, sports. Or you can just define what leadership means to you (otherwise, just contact writing service). 

Leadership essay topics all college students could use are:

  • Key challenges of a leader in a new team.
  • Top 10 do’s and don’ts to effectively guide by example.
  • Why is leadership good for college?
  • Leadership skills - can they be acquired, or one has to be born with them?
  • My favorite female leader in world history.
  • Top 3 reasons why I want to participate in a leadership program.
  • Essay writing skills – are they important for a future leader?
  • Why do people prefer to follow a leader?
  • Which leadership values are most relevant for society today?
  • The role of self-development in leadership.

A good leadership essay example will help you to get a better view on the structure and style. Pay attention to the details and means of expression. Think if you agree with the author and develop your own point for this issue. Check out our essay sample in the text document below.

Can powerful leadership skills be actually acquired? It is a crucial problem for everyone who is interested in mastering them. Let us define the leader notion and try to understand. A perfect leader is supposed to be influential, persuasive, trustworthy, and honest towards followers. Any of these qualities seems to be inherent for many. However, it is easy to see that not everybody can really become a leader.  Looking back at the history of our civilization, we can see numerous leaders: Caesar, Genghis-Khan, Tokugawa, Napoleon. It is often said that most of such persons were born leaders. However, a closer analysis of a historical figure’s well-documented biography – such as Caesar’s – displays a long path of struggle, sometimes followed by failures. Thus, history teaches us that even if some qualities are natural for a true leader, it is hardly possible to achieve significant results without a lot of effort. What is definitely crucial for a leader are abilities to plan and reach personal goals. You should be able to lead yourself in order to provide a fine example for others. Self-analysis, planning, and self-management are attainable for every grown-up human being. Therefore, the first step towards leadership can surely be taken by a properly motivated person. So, the dilemma whether true leader skills can be acquired is complicated. Of course, if you are born with proper abilities, this will make it easier for you. On the other hand, one can reach nearly anything with proper development and motivation. 

An essay on leadership for students is one of the many ways to create a thorough research paper, raise your voice in a group, or obtain students’ personal goals. In case of any difficulties with topics, just use this guide! Or pick a writing service and ask for help — our experienced authors can help you finish your leadership essay as well. Our top-notch writing platform is always at your service!

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To write a leadership essay about yourself, you need to narrow the topic down. For instance, “Why I want to become a leader”. You can also tell about the place of leadership in your life, etc.

Transformational leadership is aimed at the development of group members. A transformational leader unravels and actualizes the potential of the group members.

A short essay on leadership is a classwork assignment designed for 25-45 minutes. The short essay is about 500 words long. It has a classic 3-part structure just like the regular one. A short essay still has to feature multiple facts and points to prove your idea.

“Today, I would like to introduce several facts about myself you did not know. For instance, I had never told before that I used to volunteer my first salary to the organization that helps mentally sick children? I am a great painter. Out of all memories, I will share the most vivid episodes of my l...

How to write an essay about leadership

Leadership essays, or essays where you are asked about your work as a leader in your school or community, are not as common as you might imagine. Given all of the emphasis schools and clubs put on leadership roles and titles, essays asking students to dive deeply into this work are actually pretty rare in college applications. That said, it is important to consider leadership very broadly! You do not need to be the President or Founder of a club to write an effective essay for one of these prompts. In fact, sometimes the less common considerations and definitions of “leadership” can make for more compelling essays.

Example Leadership Essay Questions:

  • U of California: Describe an example of your leadership and a way that you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes, or contributed to group efforts over time.
  • U of Texas: How do you show leadership in your life? How do you see yourself being a leader at UT Austin?


Leadership is more than titles – it is important, when you consider questions like these, that you reflect on activities where you have contributed to an accomplishment and learned something (about yourself, about your community). In fact, it would be a more powerful essay to reflect on a leadership contribution that was not connected to a title of leadership, but where you learned something important, than to reflect upon your activity where your leadership title is big “in name only.”

Sometimes leadership happens within your family – you do not need to limit your focus to leadership that happens during your school day.

You can consider this essay happening in two distinct ways: narrative structure – where you present a challenge you faced in a leadership role, actions you did that had an impact, and lessons you learned (skills you gained); OR montage structure – where you take on two different activities that both taught you a common lesson about leadership. Don’t muddle these together! Decide whether you want to write linearly (and chronologically in time) about one activity or if you want to write non-linearly about one leadership lesson.


Try to stay away from topics where your leadership takes the reader on a familiar journey. If you want to write about your leadership on an athletic team, that is wonderful, but try to avoid an essay about how your leadership of your team during The Big Game contributed to (winning/losing) The Big Game and the team becoming closer and being “one-strong-team.” Does that feel familiar to you? That’s because college admissions folks will have read thousands of essays that tell this type of story. If you select a common team to lead, take your essay in an uncommon direction.

Avoid lengthy introductions that take away from your word count and don’t actually support your essay response.

Avoid overemphasis on one aspect that detracts from your ability to talk about the other aspects of your story. In other words, if you spend half of your words outlining the challenge you faced, you only have ¼ of the remaining words to discuss your actions and ¼ to discuss the lessons you learned. This is not a good balance!


  • What did you do?
  • What problems did you solve?
  • What lessons did you learn?
  • What impact did you have?
  • How have you applied these lessons?

Answering these questions (and in this order) actually builds you an outline for this essay!

Do you have an extracurricular activity where the character count really limits you in terms of describing your work and impact? Consider using this essay to further highlight your contributions!

Do you have an extracurricular activity that speaks directly toward your intended major or field of study? This might be a great time to make your application stand out by sharing your leadership and contributions to this field! What problems have you solved? How can you use this prompt to share these solutions?

how to write a leadership essay about yourself examples

Elise holds a BA in Political Philosophy from Williams College and an MEd in Administration & Social Policy from Harvard. She has spent the past twenty years working in top-tier independent schools.

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Leadership essays are required almost in every middle school lesson plan , high school, or university you go to. It’s not easy coming up with a theme, especially if you’re out of ideas. Organizing your thoughts for an event, scholarship, philosophy, and just anything about college also pose a significant challenge to some. That’s why it’s great to start with a simple outline about leadership that summarises and carefully explains your ideas on a short paper in 500 words or less. You can also see more on  Narrative Essays .

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  • Define your leadership role . Being a scholar is not just about getting good grades and graduating with flying colors; the candidate for the scholarship must explain in their essay what leadership role they want to grow into when they are admitted to the university.
  • State your own definition of leadership . Leaders are made, not born. Admission Letters heads are looking for your distinctive definition of leadership because they want to know if you have sufficient knowledge to be an influential scholar in a college or not.
  • Communicate a problem and how you can solve it . You must have advocacy in mind that is relevant to the position you applied for with a smart strategy as well.
  • Include facts . Every leadership essay must speak of facts that will support the advocacy and align the goals of the essay writer. You can also see more on  Leadership Developments .
  • Set a vision . Having a vision will help you gain the trust of the institution and establish your essay outline solidly. You can also see more on  Leadership Development Plans .

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  • Mention current team developments or relationships you’ve had . A background in small group successes like facilitating discussion groups gives you an edge, and it increases your chances of being admitted to a university or field of study. You can also see more on  Leadership Development Plan in Google Docs .
  • Highlight your direction in life . A personal direction or your drive in life will let admission heads know about your passion.
  • Name mentors or trainers who have influenced you . Adding respectable names in the industry that have inspired you to take on the opportunity to learn in an institution will give admission heads a reliable reference. You can also see more on  Leadership Quotes .
  • State a conflict and how you’ve managed it . The best leaders know how to manage conflict or crisis, and that’s how you can stand out among the rest of the candidates.

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