We are attempting to demystify the process of completing application forms. We have covered strategy in our first instalment, and now we look at leadership.
This is one of the most common competencies covered and can be in the form of questions such as; “Provide an example which demonstrates your personal leadership skills and how they have positively contributed to your organisation’s performance” or “How have your personally impacted on your organisation’s performance”
The most common mistake people make with this answer is giving opinion or worse, quoting other people’s opinion. All too regularly we see something like “…such where my results, my CEO told me at my appraisal that I was the best leader she had ever worked with’”. This is not evidence. You might as well say, “my mum thinks I am great”. Try to stick to demonstrable facts.
Also, as a related but separate point; the phrase, “I operate an open door style” is also on our bad answer bingo card.
So what does a good answer look like?
Using your STAR method you should first of all give your example context, which will help the reader understand the starting point from whence you came, therefore making it easier to demonstrate the positive impact, change or improvement actually made using your leadership.
Begin, by outlining what the long term goals where and what you were trying to achieve. You need to describe how you set the direction in your organisation, maximising the contribution of others around you. It is important to show where you have developed constructive working relationships. This includes colleagues, peers and how you have involved other stakeholders to ensure their views are considered. In any answer you are encouraged to use ‘I’, to ensure you focus on what your role was, however all too often people do this at the expense of mentioning that others were involved at all. Whilst leadership is often a lonely position, we all know that nothing of substance can be achieved on your own.
Your answer will also show how you delivered measurable results and achieved the outcomes.
Demonstrate how you created a focus on and set the direction of travel. You should outline how you set clear objectives and goals, but then also used your leadership to set the agenda, drive progress and maximise the contribution of others.
You should be able to articulate how you measured performance against goals and maintained a focus throughout the team and or organisation. This should also reference how you evaluated results and kept things on track.
Demonstrating that you have analysed issues and developed operational priorities is key to showing that you are a strategic leader and not a firefighting, reactionary type.
Ideally, you will also be using an example where you have actively promoted the benefit of collaboration across the organisation, be that cross functionally or even wider and between different divisions or within your industry.
Finally, not essential (depending on the question), but bonus marks for using an example that weaves in your decisiveness, persistence, empathy, and influencing skills.
The “How to Excel at Application Forms” series will culminate in a webinar on the 16th of December 2020, where we will go through each topic in more detail. If you would like to register your interest in this webinar please click here.
If you have any questions or would like to know more about how to excel at application forms please click here. A member of our team will be more than happy to answer any queries you may have.