Yesterday I reviewed an essay where the applicant was trying, and failing, to show that she had leadership experience. She failed because she wrote about her quant skills. She did not talk about motivating others to follow her lead. She did not reveal new qualities or talents. Unfortunately, she just reinforced the quant jock nerd image that many readers will harbor about financial analyst with a high quant score and GPA in econ and stats classes.
If you want to write about leadership, make sure you demonstrate leadership. Some schools, like Tuck, provide a definition of leadership to guide you. If you’re not sure what it means, then look the word up. But make sure your essays are demonstrating the quality under discussion.
While ensuring that your essay reveals the intended attributes, double check they are not telling me what I already know. If you have an engineering degree and a decent undergrad GPA, your reader will know that you have strong quant skills. You don’t need to emphasize them in every essay. You may want to reveal how you used your innate talents to achieve something unusual or have a greater than expected impact on a given organization, but don’t tell me what I already know. Introduce a different side of you — the side that is a dedicated team player, an inspiring leader, or creative artist. They are all a part of you, and you is whom your reader wants to meet.