Oftentimes the simple and clear strategy is the one that works.
When I was reviewing a client’s essays recently, there were many good themes there, and a lot to like. There was evidence of successful interactions with colleagues and teams that spoke well of leadership potential, and a powerful theme of innovation towards sustainable resources use, with career experience to back it up.
But there was no “business” there; or at least not enough. And this put me in mind of the now common mantra of managerial balance:
You’ve seen and heard it before, no doubt. But it’s worth a reminder. The leader of the 21C enterprise will have to do well by and for people (colleagues, staff members, wider stakeholders); for the planet in being a steward of sustainability and of irreplaceable resources; all while at the same time being a custodian of financial investment and ultimately rewarding it.
To balance these three imperatives is no easy juggling act. They drag you in different directions.
First prize in your MBA application would be to show some evidence of having juggled these priorities successfully already.
But even if you don’t have the direct experience, if you can show awareness that you will need to simultaneously satisfy these three competing stakeholder priorities, and give Adcom an idea how you plan to do it in your chosen industry area, you will be well on your way to positioning yourself as a values-driven, forward-looking leader of tomorrow.
I’ve written over the years on why a too-high GMAT or GRE hurts MBA applicants, see Myth of 800, and Don’t overcook, among many times I’ve addressed this. Short story: in general brainiacs don’t make particularly good practical managers, or leaders, or team players. That perception hurts admissions prospects.
So I was interested to see the World Economic Forum (WEF) recently posting: “Being too intelligent might make you a less effective leader,” based on research out of the University of Lausanne, published in the Journal of Applied Psychology.
Here’s the gist of the WEF piece: “Having a very high IQ is not necessarily such a good thing when it comes to leadership – the brightest people are actually less effective leaders, according to new research…
“Intelligence showed a positive linear relationship with leadership effectiveness up to a certain point. But the association flattened out and then started to reverse at an IQ of about 120.
“When the leaders’ IQ scores rose to 128 or above, the association with less effective leadership methods was clear and statistically significant.
“And these leaders demonstrated less transformational and instrumental leadership than leaders with a lower IQ…
“The highly intelligent leaders were not using harmful leadership styles, such as adopting a laissez-faire approach. But they did struggle to adopt the best leadership practices.
“One of the reasons may be that very clever people sometimes fail to communicate clearly enough or explain complex tasks. They may also struggle to see what others find challenging. And if a manager comes across as too intellectual, it may make the leader appear aloof or unapproachable.”
Right or wrong, Einsteins of the world have to manage the unspoken MBA adcom question that arises: is this person not a better professor or scientist, etc?
Were you to have a super-high 750+ GMAT (or GRE) you would need to talk a lot about practical everyday achievements with normal people, in the real world.
If you don’t have this monkey on your back, then really don’t set out to acquire it! Worry about your standard test score until you have a balanced Q/V 700 or so (for top 15 schools), then focus on other parts of your application which are just as important, and which you are probably neglecting due to GMAT prep.