If you’ve ever played a project management, supervisory or managerial role at work, then this question should be a piece of cake since you’ll have plenty of experience to call upon. Even if you haven’t done so in a formal capacity, you may have demonstrated your leadership skills by running a team meeting, mentoring a newer staff member, representing the company at a conference, or organising an office event.
However, if you’ve never played a leadership or management role at work, don’t panic. You can use any number of personal experiences to illustrate your leadership experience and potential. All it requires is a little lateral thinking and an understanding of what makes a good manager.
For example, if you’ve ever taken the lead in organising a social event or group activity – e.g. a party, a group presentation at university, a book club or a volunteering event – you can use that as an example. Or perhaps you were faced with some sort of dilemma or crisis that required quick decision-making and effective action on behalf of others – that’s a good example too. Describe the situation, how you came to be in a leading role, the steps you took to keep things running smoothly, and the result – for example, a successful event or crisis averted. Remember that this is not the place to be modest, so don't be afraid of saying 'I' instead of 'we'.
As any parent knows, organising children and family activities and events requires strong leadership skills – from organising trips and outings to organising car pools or sports coaching. All of these can potentially be used as examples of leadership experience as well.
The important thing is to demonstrate that with this experience you had to display qualities such as initiative, decisiveness, organisational abilities and the ability to manage, guide and motivate others. These are skills that can be transferred to any work context and will be invaluable to your future employer.