Does teaching count as a leadership example?

Actively preparing for interviews at McKinsey and BCG leadership Personalfit
New answer on Jul 03, 2020
7 Answers
1.8 k Views
Anonymous A asked on Mar 11, 2020

Hello, I was wondering if being a teacher and tutor counts as leadership.
I mean teaching adults at college level. Technically you are leading and responsible for a group, but on the other hand, your role is very specifically defined therefore it does not take much extra mile or drive to lead them other than your regular job duties. And you are mainly leading them towards exams, and the relationship is very hierarchical, not colleagial, and in the end, you are not mainly responsible for their results, they are (except of course your review matters). Apologies if this is a silly question but I do wonder if I can use teaching as an example for leadership.
thanks !

Overview of answers

Upvotes
  • Upvotes
  • Date ascending
  • Date descending
Best answer
Francesco
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Apr 01, 2020
#1 Expert for Coaching Sessions (3.700+) | 1.300+ Reviews with 100% Recommendation Rate | Ex BCG | 8+ Years of Coaching

Hi there,

it really depends on the story. In a leadership example you should:

  • Be in charge of leading a group (if you are not the leader of the group but – say – just part of a team, your example would be an example for teamwork, not leadership)
  • Have to face a challenging situation
  • Be responsible for the results of the group to overcome the situation

If your teaching example satisfies the previous points, then yes, it could be a good example.

Best,
Francesco

Was this answer helpful?
Sidi
Expert
updated an answer on Mar 11, 2020
McKinsey Senior EM & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 300+ candidates secure MBB offers

Hi!

It is very important that you understand what "Leadership" actually means. It is not about being a formal leader. And it is also not about being particularly pro-active (even though this is a precondition for leadership). Let me explain it based on McKinsey's definition of Leadership:

  • Leadership, in essence, means to enable the people around you!

So a classical leadership experience is a situation when

  • You were part of a group which was working towards a common objective. Whether you were the formal leader of the group or not is irrelevant!
  • This group faced some sort of obstacle (typically some kind of disfunctionality within the group, based on either capability gaps, non-adequate processes/tools, lack of motivation due to unclear benefit to individual team members, or toxic behavior by certain team members).
  • Showcasing your leadership means to show what you specifically did to address and resolve the disfunctionality of the group. The core of the story has to be your analysis of the situation (i.e., how you isolated the root cause(s) of the disfunctionality) and the resolution (i.e., what did you do to address these root causes).

That's it. So the most important thing to prepare the McKinsey PEI is to really understand what the concrete dimensions (leadership, personal impact, entrepreneurial drive) mean to the firm and what corresponding qualities and capabilities you have to showcase.

Teaching CAN work as an example, but in order to cover the above mentioned elements it should probably relate to a concrete project/objective, what the obstacle was, and how you enabled the group of students to reach that objective.

Cheers, Sidi

(edited)

Was this answer helpful?
Clara
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Mar 11, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

I would say it depends on the particular story you want to talk related to yuor teaching experience (is like if I asked, non-profit work counts for personal impact? Depends on the story in particular)

McKinsey offers a deffinition in their web, defining leadership as "We seek people who strive to lead themselves, their teams, and their communities, and who can foster effective teamwork to drive results"

Can you give further detail?

Cheers,

Clara

Was this answer helpful?
Antonello
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Mar 25, 2020
McKinsey | MBA professor for consulting interviews

It might be, but it depends on the story. Try to focus on how you staffed your students, provide them feedback and strengthen their skills. I also recommend at least another leadership story to be able to discuss about multiple situations during the interview.

Best,
Antonello

Was this answer helpful?
Robert
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Mar 11, 2020
McKinsey offers w/o final round interviews - 100% risk-free - 10+ years MBB coaching experience - Multiple book author

Hi Anonymous,

I agree with Sidi's excellent summary and want to add a bit more context to being in a formal leadership position vs. not being in a formal leadership situation.

When it comes to the Leadership dimension in your Personal Experience Interview, there is a fundamental misunderstanding of many candidates.

There is no requirement at all for your McKinsey Leadership PEI to be / have been in a formular Leadership position. This might now come as a suprise: Ideally, you don’t even have a formal leadership role in your PEI example (e.g. business unit director, department head, project lead), but initially you are acting in a group of equals.

In this scenario you can even better demonstrate how you spot opportunities (something could be going way better, if there just was effective leadership…) and act upon those opportunities to have a positive real-life impact on the overall situation.

At the same time you can also show that the team first of all accepted you taking on the leadership role, which obviously is less of an issue if you are in a hierarchically superior leadership position anyway. To earn this trust of the team is also an additional challenge making your example stronger, especially showing that the team also follows your guidance and leadership without having the supporting hierarchical power of a formal leader.

Additionally, by proactively taking on this leadership role you demonstrate that you are ready to take over additional responsibility and risk – if you had failed in this situation, it most likely would have had a negative impact on you/your career.

However, if your example is very strong otherwise and you were in an official, hierarchical leadership role, it is for sure no show-stopper for this example – obviously, there just should not be a leadership vacuum in a situation which was triggered by you in the first place.

Hope that helps - if so, please give it a thumbs-up with the green upvote button below!

Robert

Was this answer helpful?
Anonymous replied on Jul 03, 2020

Dear A,

According to Forbes definition "Leadership is a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a goal. Notice key elements of this definition: Leadership stems from social influence, not authority or power. Leadership requires others, and that implies they don't need to be “direct reports”. I don't think that teaching is suitable here.

Best,

André

Was this answer helpful?
0
Luca
Expert
Content Creator
updated an answer on Mar 12, 2020
BCG |NASA |20+ interviews with 100% success rate| 120+ students coached |GMAT expert 780/800 score

Dear anonymous,

I think that you have already answered your question. Leadership is a mix of different skills and qualities, and some of them are fore sure part of the teacher's role.
As you said, you are responsible for a group of people and even if your role is really defined, but there are dozens of ways to do it.
Think about your experience: were the teachers all the same in your opinion? Or you remember teachers that were able to involve more the students, that made you to have fun at school?
Also in these defined roles there is the possibility to excell and to show leadership skills.

Of course leadership is not only about this, but this can be one of the 2 examples that you cite to demonstrate your leadership skills ;)

Best,
Luca

(edited)

Was this answer helpful?
Francesco gave the best answer

Francesco

Content Creator
#1 Expert for Coaching Sessions (3.700+) | 1.300+ Reviews with 100% Recommendation Rate | Ex BCG | 8+ Years of Coaching
3,717
Meetings
21,880
Q&A Upvotes
242
Awards
1373 Reviews