Leadership, Part 2: Let it resonate throughout your application

Post By: COYD Staff

college admissions processEarlier this week, we posted a TED talk (http://www.ted.com) that did a great job describing valuable characteristics of a leader. Itay Talgam shows clips of different conductors; a conductor’s job is to lead an orchestra and create “perfect harmony without saying a word.” Talgam analyzes the different conductors’ live performances to emphasize which qualities are the most effective and ineffective in leading the orchestra. Below we have highlighted some ideas and quotes from this talk**:

1. “Spread happiness. Happiness and joy don’t come from just his story. The joy is about enabling other people’s stories to be heard at the same time.”
2. Don’t lead through fear.
3. Treat your team as partners, not instruments.
4. Have control without being controlling.
5. Being professional and having authority when needed.
6. Let go, enjoy and compliment your team. A leader not only creates “a process but also creates the conditions in the world in which the process takes place.”
7. “Control is no longer a zero sum game.”
8. “Need to have process and content to create meaning.”
9. “If you love something, give it away.”

Like we have said before, it is not enough just to list leadership roles on your resume. Leadership is more than just a title; it is an attitude, and that is why we wanted to give you this video and quotes from inspirational leaders around the world who will teach you more about what being a leader entails.

An admissions officer is able to see a true leader through someone’s letters of recommendation and essays. You should ask for a letter of recommendation from a teacher/supervisor who not only has seen you excel but also who has seen you be a leader. To illustrate my point, let’s take Rachel Berry from the television show Glee. Rachel might be the one who “excels” the most in terms of talent according to the show, but she is not the true leader of the team. She is selfish, controlling and not generous. Everybody in the group hates her because she flaunts her talent and looks down on other people who are not as talented. Obviously, Rachel’s character is not that of a leader, and the essential point is that just being good at something doesn’t automatically qualify you as a leader. For your recommendation, pick a teacher with whom you have a rapport. Someone who has seen you participate in class. Someone who has seen you help others. Someone who has seen you motivate others. Good grades and awards are already on your transcript and resume. Letters of recommendation and essays are instruments that show your character and your soft skills beyond your academic achievements. Be strategic about who writes your letter of recommendation and what you write in your essays.

**Itay Talgam, “Lead like the great conductors”, www.ted.com.


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