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Requesting review of Chevening "Leadership & Influencing" Essay

arifkoushik 2 / 4 1  
Oct 31, 2016   #1
Dear Respected Reviewers,
I am going to apply for Chevening scholarship, and would really appreciate your kind inputs on this essay. Thanks a million in advance.

In my childhood, when I had no idea what leadership was and what different types it had, I used to be one of the kindest, most flexible and the nicest kids around. I could never sit on my laurels being a one trick pony. So, I always used to get engaged in any form of extra-curricular activities, such as being part of school programs, sports events, study tours and picnic organizing groups. It helped me gain the respect of my peers as a social and capable kid, increased my likability because of my flexible and friendly attitude, and made me an integral part of those organizing groups. Therefore, I would say I was more of a facilitator than I was a leader at that time.

As I grew up into a high school teenager, I started studying the other people who I thought were better leaders or influencers than I was, and tried to figure out what transferrable skills set them apart in certain leadership criteria. I gradually singled out that confidence, effective communication and dependability are three important criteria for situational leaders. It spurred me to add these qualities to my repertoire, and gradually I established myself as an automatic choice for leading various school and social events. For example, I lead and managed the school cricket tournaments in my 10th, 11th and 12th grades; I managed the grand re-union of our school in the year of 2000, organized several blood donation programs for the Red Crescent Society of Bangladesh between 1997 and 2003, and distributed relief in 28 different villages during the great flood of 1998.

As I moved into my university life and professional life thereafter, I developed the passion of leading from the front. My communication ability has always been applauded and it helped me convey even the seemingly unpopular messages in a more digestible way. I firmly believe in the mantra that it is not what one communicates; it is how one communicates the messages. Unlike my boyhood days, while I'm still compassionate today, I am not afraid of taking unpopular decisions to fulfill my objectives. However, my ability to connect with people and my dependable personality has always enabled me to make it a smooth ride.

Forbes personality test reveals that I am predominantly a democratic leader today. However, as a leader I am flexible enough to adjust to different situations and people. In my professional leadership positions, I have managed numerous projects successfully, negotiated various conflicts peacefully, communicated with myriad levels of stakeholders effectively, and achieved organizational goals efficiently. For example, I have lead the USD 2 million ERP project for one of my previous employers (Hamid Fabrics), where I had to manage some very influential top executives and company owners, some notoriously bureaucratic mid-level executives, technically gifted software developers, technically layman end users and so on. On top of that, motivating people through the difficult change management process while adhering to project cost, quality and timeline was an achievement I am really proud of.
Holt  Educational Consultant - / 10,529 3444  
Oct 31, 2016   #2
Arif, for some reason, you approached this essay from the point of view of a definition essay. That is the wrong approach. Neither is this a personal statement where you are welcome to share your personal observations and development in terms of leadership. This is an essay that calls upon you to to define leadership through your actions and influence, through the way that you inspire those around you to action. There is a need for a solid example based upon a professional experience of yours. I am sure that as a professional, you are rich with such stories and can create a highly impressive example for yourself. The current essay that you have written cannot be used as a response to the prompt. You must develop a new essay based upon the instructions that I have provided above for you. Do not start from childhood. Just go directly to your adult experience in the workplace. That is all Chevening is interested in learning about. I look forward to reading your revision.
OP arifkoushik 2 / 4 1  
Oct 31, 2016   #3
Dear Holt, Thank you for your kind suggestion. I will rewrite it and share with you soon.

OP arifkoushik 2 / 4 1  
Nov 6, 2016   #4
Hi, good day, and here is the revised one. Any feedback will be greatly appreciated. :)

Chevening is looking for individuals that will be future leaders or influencers in their home countries. Explain how ...

Leadership is the quality that sets a person considerably apart from general population en-masse. People with the stronger version of this quality can make others dream for heights previously seemed unattainable, have the resiliency to sail the boat even in the most difficult of circumstances, and can squeeze out the best out of his team by instilling sheer motivation. Therefore, in today's knowledge based business & social environments, this quality is more important than any other time in the history.

Even though I was continuously engaged in numerous extracurricular and social activities since my boyhood, and successfully lead different groups with hugely different personalities, the first real opportunity to demonstrate my leadership qualities in professional life arrived when I was working for Airtel Bangladesh. Our cellular service was going to be officially launched in less than 15 days, and the General Manager of Customer Services suddenly realized that the inbound contact center agents needed an internal web portal to provide real time and accurate information instantly, instead of the previously planned "Memorize your SOP" type of obsolete strategy. There was too little time to hire outside consultants, and internal developers/programmers were extremely busy with the launching looming in the horizon. Dearth of options led to huge concerns for the managers, because they felt the service level of the employees would be hugely compromised without a strong and fast portal with complete information.

At this pinnacle of crisis, I offered help with my wee bit of knowledge in web development, gathered a small team of 3 amateur developers, and jumped into work. We had to do it all after our regular work, so it was a monumental task to gather all the information, conceptualize the design and the flow of logic, portal's layout, UI, and of course, error testing. I kept the team motivated throughout by leading from the front; and took the ownership of making it flawless and to deliver on time. We worked day and night, and completed the portal in the early hours of 10th May, the day of launching.

With that experience, I was handed the leadership of a $2m ERP project in my next job at Hamid Fabrics. We had a vendor with all freshly graduate developers who had little or no knowledge of the business side, and our internal users had no knowledge about the constraints of software development side. Soon after the development began, both teams became frustrated of each other. I had to use my ever acclaimed communication ability to bridge the gap and motivate both the sides with my sheer resiliency. I worked in detail so that the quality of end product exceeds the expectations of users and the top management. And to my excitement, it certainly materialized.

I think my resiliency, ability to connect with people and inspire them to fulfill their potential have always been my greatest leadership assets. I aspire to enhance them even further with Chevening and contribute to my country at a much higher level in future.

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