Writing an Essay About Leadership: A Complete Guide for Students
Leadership is typically defined as the capacity of a person (as well as a group of people or organization) to “lead” others, influence their opinions, or guide them. A good leader must be able to rally people around a shared cause or goal, help shape a vision, and motivate and inspire others to attain that goal.
For decades, leadership has been one of the most sought-after abilities. It is considered one of the primary driving forces of humanity and progress. Leaders foster innovation, growth, and a goal-accomplishing attitude. So, this quality is highly valued in all areas of our lives, including in school, at work, and in one’s personal life as well.
Being such a pivotal skill, leadership often becomes a topic for academic essays. Although the topic is incredibly popular, writing a compelling paper on this subject might be uneasy. Yet, this doesn’t mean that there are absolutely no ways to ease the process.
In the guide below, we are going to answer some of your biggest questions about this type of assignment and provide actionable tips for writing a good paper. Also, we are going to give you some leadership essay examples and ideas that should help inspire your own writing.
The first big question students face when assigned this task is ‒ “What is a leader essay, in the first place?” So, let’s start from there.
In a nutshell, a leadership essay is a short piece of writing focused on the topic of leadership. Just like any other essay, it can serve multiple purposes. For example, if it’s written as a part of your class or homework, it can be:
Depending on the type of assignment, your task might be to define leadership, compare different leadership styles, reflect on real-life applications of this skill, etc.
Alternatively, this type of work can be a part of the college admission process. Leadership is a common topic for admission essays. In this case, the primary goal of the paper is to show the admissions officers that you are a true leader. You might need to explain what personal traits make you a good leader and showcase real-life examples of situations when you demonstrated this skill.
In both cases, this type of essay requires you to understand the nature of leadership and communicate it in your paper, following the provided prompts and guidelines.
Read on to learn how!
Typically, a leadership paper is a short essay that follows the traditional essay structure. It consists of three main components: an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Traditionally, an introduction and conclusion take up one paragraph each. The number of paragraphs in the body of your paper can vary depending on the given word count. In any case, there should be at least two body paragraphs.
The writing process for this type of paper is also pretty conventional. It requires decent planning and organization to convey your ideas efficiently. Here are the core steps that should be involved in the process:
These are the main steps to handling this task, and they look pretty simple. Nevertheless, the task itself often turns out to be rather challenging. So, let us give you a few extra guiding tips to help you ace your essay.
It’s hard to call a more crucial part of a leadership essay than its intro. This part of the paper aims to introduce the readers to your topic and make a logical transition to the ideas and arguments you are going to provide. But most importantly, this section should grab the readers’ attention and spark their desire to read your work to the end.
To grab the attention instantly, you should start your intro with a hook. Traditionally, there are six types of effective essay hooks:
Depending on your task, pick a hook that has the highest likelihood of engaging your readers. Then, use a few sentences to create a topic onset and give your readers an idea of what you will be talking about in your paper:
Most importantly, keep your intro short and straight to the topic.
Now that you know how to start your paper, we also need to take a moment to clarify the ideal length of your work.
The length of this type of work can vary significantly depending on its type and purpose. Most often, if you are writing for an admission committee, schools will ask you to stick with a 250 word essay on leadership. However, if you are writing for a class, the word count can go up to 1000 words.
As was mentioned earlier, your essay might come with a specific word count. Whether it’s written for admission or a class, you might be given a set of instructions with a specific limit of words. In this case, you should carefully study the guidelines and stick to the word count indicated in them.
In the rare case that the word count isn’t specified, stick to the general rule of thumb and limit your essay to 500 or 600 words.
While the body of your essay will be unique, which means we can’t give you much advice on how to handle it, the conclusion always follows a traditional structure.
The conclusion of a paper is its final clause. It aims to wrap up everything you’ve discussed in your paper and give it a sense of a logical ending. Often, you will also leave your readers with some food for thought to ensure that your essay makes a lasting impact. Now, let’s define how to write this part of your work in detail.
The first and most important rule for writing a conclusion is to summarize the information from your paper without introducing any new data. Providing new information will only make your readers confused and destroy the effect your essay has on them. So, keep this tip in mind.
Also, when writing a conclusion for your college essay, you should begin with a restatement of your thesis. This trick will logically link your conclusion to the intro.
If you are writing for a class, you can end your final clause with suggestions for further research. For students writing an admission paper, the best way to finish this essay is to emphasize how you plan to apply your leadership skills discussed in the paper to your education, future career, and community in general.
Unless you are provided with a specific prompt, question, or topic that you need to address in your essay, you will have to generate ideas for your work on your own. This can feel rather overwhelming. So, let us give you a few thoughts on what you can write about in your paper.
If you are writing an admission essay, the best way to handle it is to tell a story about your own leadership skills. There are a few ways to do this. For example, you can talk about:
If you are writing a paper for a class, the choice of ideas can be even more extensive. Depending on the type of your paper, you can write about the great leaders from history, business, or other areas. Also, you can define and analyze different leadership skills, styles, theories, etc.
To help you get started with your paper, we compiled a list of good leadership topics that you can try for your essay:
Homework leadership essay topics
Admission essay leadership topics
Now that you have some general topic samples, let’s look at the complete essay example to help you find inspiration.
“Great leaders are not defined by the absence of weakness, but rather by the presence of clear strengths.” ‒ John Peter Zenger. Leaders motivate, inspire, and guide others to greater achievements. They foster innovation, communication, and progress in every landscape. But what exactly does it mean to be a great leader? From Mahatma Gandhi and Abraham Lincoln to Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher ‒ these exceptional leaders have been shaping the history of humanity for many years. They all had different styles of leadership, values, and vision. Yet, they also had a lot in common. Regardless of the type and style of leadership one chooses, it’s personal skills and traits that make a true leader.
It’s possible to define over ten different styles of leadership. These styles have been shaping and changing throughout history, affected by a variety of factors, including the overall structure of the world and the mood of society. In the 21st century, one of the most widespread types of leadership styles is democratic leadership. This style implies that the decision-making power is never concentrated in one person’s hands. Instead, all subordinates of the leader with this style are given a voice in the process of making decisions. Yet, the responsibility for the actions of the entire group is still on the leader. Throughout decades, this form of leadership has been considered one of the most effective and humane ones. No wonder so many impressive leaders in history relied on it, including Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F Kennedy, Mahatma Gandhi, Barack Obama, and many others. Due to its nature, the key characteristics of a good leader with this style include teamwork, empathy, and a fair mind.
An opposite of the democratic style is autocratic Leadership. This style implies that the entire control, command, and power are concentrated in the hands of a leader. In this setting, the leader makes all decisions on their own, without giving their subordinates much room for negotiation or objections. And the responsibility is also fully on the leader. Due to its somewhat tyrannic nature, this style of leadership has a lot of detractors, especially in the modern world. Nevertheless, it still has some adherents. Some of the most famous leaders who used this style and believed in its effectiveness include Queen Elizabeth I, Napoleon Bonaparte, Adolf Hitler, Donald Trump, and others.
Apart from democratic and autocratic, there are also many other leadership styles, including transformational, team, visionary, strategic, and other types of leadership. Each of them has certain pros and cons. And each has its own adherents and detractors. Yet, in broader terms, it’s not a leadership style that determines a good leader but their qualities and the way they use their styles.
Regardless of the leveraged style of leadership, a good leader is determined by a set of personal traits, qualities, and skills. A good leader must be self-aware, resilient, accountable, and confident. Most importantly, they must possess such qualities as empathy and emotional intelligence. After all, a leader must motivate and inspire people to follow them, which is impossible without these two skills.
As for important leadership skills, they include decision-making, critical thinking, and problem-solving. Yet, the two essential skills are active listening and communication.
Leaders come in many shapes and kinds. Some of them are in-born, whereas others overcome a long and thorny path of self-exploration and development. They also use a variety of leadership styles, such as democratic, autocratic, and others. Yet, if you have to describe a good leader, it’s their qualities and skills that matter the most.