At Berkeley Haas, we are redefining leadership. We value different opinions and perspectives, recognizing that we always have more to learn about others’ lived experiences and histories. We encourage speaking up and listening, and courageously use our power to address barriers and drive change for positive impact. Tell us how a Berkeley Haas MBA would enhance your leadership profile, incorporating specific examples. (300 words max)
Wow. That is one hell of a trick question. These guys don’t just drop words in for fun. If you were to answer the actual question-question (“Tell us how a Berkeley Haas MBA would enhance your leadership profile, incorporating specific examples”) without paying much attention to that preamble, you could very easily go off on a VERY different (and potentially disastrous) path.
A good answer here MUST be characterized by HUMILITY and the capacity and desire to listen and learn from others. That’s what this question is all about. You need to explain how you’re gonna grow as a leader… by being a better LISTENER and OBSERVER and “EMBRACER” of people who have different backgrounds and perspectives. Because doing so will make you better at leading.
Or we can say it the other way, people who exhibit a LOW capacity or desire to consider the perspective of others (especially the perspectives of those with different backgrounds and influences) are likely to be “bad at leading… because of that.” Why? Well, for one, think about why Haas might believe that leadership needs “redefining” in this way. For example: “The world is more global today than it was several decades ago. Being stuck in a particular mindset can therefore be a real liability in the world of business.” See how we brought it back to business? Yes it’s Berkeley, but it’s still business school, folks. They want you to kick ass in the BUSINESS WORLD not in the “hug it out and sing kumbayah world.”
So, in 300 words, we need to know (a) Where you need to be stretched in this area, where can you improve; (b) Specifically how will Haas help you achieve that needed growth; and finally (c) What might YOU have to offer others? That last part is a bonus piece that many will miss. Don’t just get all high and mighty and tell us how you plan to GRACE others with your amazingness. Instead, talk about this as though your contribution were simply part of a chemical reaction where… the interaction w OTHER AGENTS (your cohort) will combust somehow and lead to something where everyone profits. So this isn’t you talking AT people about your experiences doing ABC cool thing. It’s “by contributing that kind of thing in a class filled w XYZ type people, I hope [ABC cool thing] happens.” This all ties to the ways in which you’re hoping to STRETCH as a leader, but the key aspect is that it’s mindful of others (and people’s impact on each other) every step of the way.