How to Write an Essay on Leadership

Leadership essay

The world needs great leaders to move forward and progress, the type of people that can inspire others and make tough decisions. Great leadership is not only defined by the words they say, but even more so by the actions they take. Globally, leadership traits are hard to define because being a leader can mean so many different things. It’s no wonder that this topic is heavily explored by universities and professors and given as term papers to see how the youth defines great leadership. Learning how to write a leadership essay can be easy if you follow these steps. 

What is a Leadership Essay?

A leadership paper is a type of essay that asks the student to elaborate on the idea of leadership critically and subjectively. This entails research upon leadership styles and differences between leaders, managers, and followers. A deeper analysis of the type of leadership demonstrated in society is also essential for this paper. 

The questions asked in an essay on leadership varies. Some may ask you to give examples and personal experience of how others demonstrate leadership skills from everyday tasks at home, to academia and extracurriculars, and even at a community level. Some may ask you to describe a prominent leader that you know of, and define leadership. The point is to get you to think critically about a leadership trait is in a subjective manner. Writing a leadership paper seems just like any other paper, but there are certain nuances and tactics to maximize your effectiveness. 


Leadership Essays are usually discursive essays, asking you a question to discuss and analyze in detail. Discursive essays are very distinct in the way that your thesis statements and arguments should align with each other and lead the reader to a similar conclusion you have about the topic at hand, in this case, the definition of leadership. But similar to other essays, the organization stays true; an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

○  Introduction

A strong introduction includes your thesis that asks the question you are going to answer in your essay. What makes a leader a leader? What separates a good leader from a great one? What does it mean to be a leader? Questions like these have many different answers, but it is up to you to choose an answer and develop your reasonings behind it.

○  Body Paragraphs

Discursive essays on leadership traits need to have solid arguments, supported by evidence and examples. Each new paragraph should have a clear argument for your thesis and should have enough information to talk about. Here are some examples of topics that can help you define leadership.

○  Best Qualities of a Leader

Certain characteristics of people help them become better leaders and other characteristics allow them to make tough decisions. From empathy to charisma or competence to morality, a whole spectrum of leadership qualities are easily talked about and argued for or against. It’s important to elaborate on them, so think of examples you can pair with each trait. For example, charisma allows people to convince and communicate with people on a different level to follow and support, and Napoleon was able to charismatically lead the French Military across Europe earning many wins in battle because he could communicate well with the soldiers. Use traits that many leaders use so your argument can stand firmly; most leaders have “this characteristic” to allow them “to do this thing.” Do some research on which traits you’d like to write about. 

○ The single most important leadership trait

Choosing one trait out of all traits can exemplify what your definition of leadership is allowing a deeper analysis why this trait is important. Being able to elaborate on this can demonstrate your knowledge about the topic. Of course, one trait doesn’t completely define a leader, but if you are effective within your language and discourse, this one trait will become more important in the reader’s mind. 

○ Examples of Great Leaders in Society 

Using examples of real life leaders can strengthen your argument and show your critical thinking skills. Detailing the decisions that Napoleon made and the way he lead his armies, or why Mahatma Gandhi was so compelling to many other people globally are a great way to define great leadership and even leadership experience from a wide range of important people. 

○  Different Types of Leadership Styles 

Showing all the different types of leadership styles gives you room to talk about or criticize from different angles. This is important to include because it extends your knowledge on the topic and reader attention will be piqued because of the variety of ideas included. For example, speaking about Autocracy as an ideology and where it works and where it doesn’t can contrast with Democracy and how it applies to your work or life situations and even at a governmental level. There are a lot of types of leadership styles to analyze and compare, so make sure to do some research beforehand to create content for your essay. 

○  Bad Leadership Styles/Leaders

Great discursive essays are critical and can even include counter-arguments or the flipside to emphasize the difference between your ideas and others. Being able to show what constitutes bad leadership styles or leaders that led people astray demonstrates your ability to think critically about opposing sides. But don’t write too many paragraphs about bad leadership styles and leaders, you should limit to one paragraph for counter-arguments. 

○  Conclusion

The ending of your entire essay should be a summary of all the points you made about your thesis. Think of this as the bow that your wrap around a present it tie it all together. Reiterate your thesis statement. It should be a paraphrasing from your original thesis in your intro. 

Tips to Enhance your Essay

  • Keywords The topic is about leadership, and although it should be completely subjective, there are lots of things that people can agree upon that make a great leader. One important aspect is to include personal characteristics of great leaders such as empathy, determination, ability to follow and lead, motivation, and so on. These keywords will provide a strong idea of what you think is a great leader.
  • Active Voice Use some lexical skills to enhance the effect of your paper. Active voice puts a more positive position on your paper, as it makes you or the leader the important part of the sentence. Avoid using the passive voice as it shows that someone is not the main aspect of a sentence.
  • Use Linking Words: Organizing your thoughts is crucial for an essay. Using linking words to create more cohesion and coherence can provide a better flow of an essay. Instead of “first, second, and third” you could use terms like “To begin with, on the one hand, or consequently” to liven up your language.

Leadership is bred, not born, and your essay should highlight all the things you think about it. Writing an essay requires you to be analytical and critical. When you are faced with an important essay about leadership, keep in mind all of these tips and tricks so you’ll ace it. This is what separates you from the rest of the crowd. Don’t be a sheep!

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