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What is leadership?

Leadership is the ability to take control of a situation and to lead by empowering others into an effective team. Inspiring and energising others to carry out tasks and achieve goals by displaying a clear sense of direction and values.

Leadership qualities are important for everyone, even for those who are not in managerial/supervision positions. Leadership skills mean that you can manage people and are able to take initiative. Being able to see and plan ahead, acquire knowledge and have people look up to you are all leadership qualities.

Application form and interview questions

Some examples of application form and interview questions which are designed to test leadership skills:

  • Describe a time when you had to co-ordinate the work of other people.
  • Describe a time when you successfully helped someone to carry out a task independently.
  • In what past situations have you been most effective in providing leadership and direction?

If you are unsure how to structure an answer for either application or interview questions, visit the application and interviews section of our website and find out about the CAR (context, action, result) and STAR (situation, task, action, result) models. Our recommendations are based on feedback from employers.

Activities where you could develop leadership skills

The following activities, which may be undertaken as part of or alongside your studies, can be good ways to develop your leadership skills:

  • Enterprise Modules Gain a practical insight into self-employment and help develop business skills.
  • Manchester Leadership Programme This academic module is open to most undergraduate students at Manchester and teaches the importance of leadership that promotes social, economic and environmental sustainability.
  • Part-time Job You may be given the opportunity to supervise or help train new staff.
  • PASS Leader Voluntary role facilitating groups of lower year students on specific study related topics and strategies. Some students may have the opportunity to take on co-ordinator roles after a year as a Leader.
  • Peer Mentoring Develop management skills by supporting others through their studies and wider university life.
  • Volunteering Gives you the chance to develop a range of skills while giving something back to the community.