5 pitfalls of terrible leadership stories

By: Jack Pelzer

Photo by Eric Santillian, via Wikimedia Commons

Can you give an example of an instance in which you demonstrated outstanding leadership? You better, because every behavioral interview is bound to include some form of this question. Employers LOVE leadership experience (even if they are filling jobs that require blind obedience to a tyrannical middle manager).

So how can you improve your answer to this inevitable prompt? Unfortunately, there aren’t any short cuts. Crafting a compelling leadership narrative is both time-consuming and difficult, but the good news is that it’s pretty easy to avoid telling terrible leadership stories. Just avoid doing these things:

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How much for a sandwich? An over-complicated analysis

By: Jack Pelzer

An Excel screenshot courtesy of the author

I was recently forwarded a USA Today article from my mother (which is generally how I get news of the outside world). The piece was entitled “How much for a sandwich? Try $90,000 in lost savings”. Here’s the link:


This story grabbed my attention for a number of reasons. First, as an MBA candidate, I feel it is my duty to verify the present value of future cash flows. Second, I am a connoisseur of fine sandwiches.

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Welcome address from the new administration

By: Jack Pelzer

The MBA Irish Echoes editorial board greets its new leader

Thank you! Thank you.

(pause for wild applause)

Thank you! Please. Settle down. I think we all want to get home in time for dinner!

(pause for polite laughter)

People said we would never do it. They said there was no way that two guys from the suburbs would become editors of the MBA student life blog at Notre Dame. Boy, we sure showed them. Didn’t we T.J.?

(new MBA Irish Echoes Managing Editor T.J. Connors nods furiously)

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