How to Convey Leadership Skills

Question:

Hi! Thanks for the videos, it's really opened my eyes to what's expected of you in case interviews!! Actually, i am totally new to the idea of this kind of consulting, and really, just incredibly excited about the prospect!! There is something about this career that makes me just think - I KNOW i can do this, it's exactly how my brain works 🙂

The main problem I am having is understanding this "leadership" quality and how it fits into the picture of being a good consultant. What kind of qualities do McKinsey & the other firms view as solid leadership qualities? And why are they important?

The reason I ask is that I don't have much standard "managed a team" kind of leadership experience. Over the last few years since completing my degree, I have totally transformed myself from an incredibly shy, nervous person, to someone who can just relax into a situation and be confident in who they are.

My prior work experience was in accounts, where I was very much left to sort things out, learn things, and get on with things by myself a lot of the time.

So, is there any way I can show solid leadership skills without having ever lead a team?

My Reply:

Leadership skills are important because much of what consultants do is create change inside an organization. And most people (clients) inherently resist change due to fear, uncertainty, doubt, and other factors (many of which are driven by emotions).

Leadership is about getting others to do something that you want. In the context of consulting, leadership is about getting clients to help you / work with you and also about getting clients to make changes in the business.

It is entirely possible to develop the logically correct, factually supported conclusion that clients will promptly ignore. Leadership is what turns this situation around.

You can demonstrate leadership skills without necessarily having to manage a department of employees. You can demonstrate in through any extra-curricular or civic activities (depending on your life stage).

You describe any kind of situation where you had to deal with group conflicts, a tough crowd, or leading a group of people to accomplish a particular goal. The examples can be from sports, clubs, non-profits, hobbies, personal activities, or any number of areas.

The big worry firms have is that you'll have a high IQ, but a low EQ - which is a big problem for a consultant. Or phrased differently, they're afraid you will come up with the right factually supported answer that clients will promptly ignore because they just don't like or trust you.

Also on a related note, when you are asked about your career or personal experiences (often asked as an attempt to ascertain your previous leadership experiences), you'll want to structure your answer in the STAR method or Parade method. These approaches help to ensure you deliver a time efficient, yet complete answer.

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