What are the qualities that Stanford GSB is looking for as they build their class? How do successful applicants stand out from the crowd? At a school as competitive as Stanford, it’s a fact that many smart, accomplished applicants won’t get in—so how can you demonstrate that you have that “it” factor? Let us walk you through Stanford’s evaluation criteria and give you some advice.
Demonstrated Leadership Potential
Of course, Stanford GSB seeks demonstrated leadership potential – don’t all b-schools? And naturally you’ve got leadership, or you wouldn’t be applying to Stanford.
But. There are some unique nuances to Stanford’s conception of leadership that are essential to understand in order to portray it effectively in your application. Let’s break the phrase down word by word, starting with the core principle.
Leadership starts with your personal character in Stanford’s eyes —your own “values and ideals.” Whatever change you’re guiding the client to achieve, or whatever vision you’re advocating, or whatever project you’re driving the team through Hades to complete on time – your character informs it in some way, shape, or form. Even if the project in question is not of deep importance to you – still, how you lead the group will reflect your character. To provide appropriate and meaningful leadership, you must have core values or ideals and be guided by them – including as you lead. GSB’s preferred leadership is essentially value- and ideal-driven, what it calls “directed idealism.”
Even if you are already a leader per the above definition, you’re not satisfied. You know that improving will only enable you to achieve more of what you value – therefore you actively seek to grow as a leader. You are open to critique and feedback, you are resourceful, you are humble, and you are hungry to learn.
Concrete evidence that convinces the adcom to conclude that you will grow as a leader and provide leadership in the future. You must demonstrate both leadership and potential to grow as a leader. For the former, provide this evidence by portraying experiences in your application boxes, essays, resume, and (if you provide some suggestions for your recommenders) recommendations that reflect your leadership to date. For the latter, in these same application components frankly reflect on where you are in your leadership development – you understand what parts are innate to you, and where you need to improve.
So “demonstrated leadership potential” is actually rather complex. Spend some time and effort on a strategy to integrate these points into your entire application.
Check out the first post in this series, Understanding Stanford GSB’s Core Value Of Intellectual Vitality.
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