Careers and Employability Service

Employability Skills


Leadership involves:

  • Being able to motivate & direct others
  • Taking responsibility for the direction & actions of a team
  • Setting objectives
  • Organising & motivating others
  • Taking the initiative
  • Persevering when things are not working out
  • Taking a positive attitude to frustration/failure
  • Accepting responsibility for mistakes/wrong decisions
  • Being flexible: prepared to adapt goals in the light of changing situations

How to become a leader

  • Use initiative to act on opportunities. Become a leader before other people view you as one. Healthy organisations reward those who take the lead, not just those with formal management roles.
  • Take responsibility for own objectives: set priorities.
  • Display a "can do" attitude even in demanding situations.. Try to solve problems, rather than to pass them on to other people. First answer is ‘yes, I’ll make it happen’.
  • "Go the extra mile" when asked to do tasks. Go beyond your job description. Do work that gets you noticed.
  • Show enthusiasm: this will be noticed and you will eventually be rewarded.
  • Take ownership of problems: anticipate potential problems, take pre-emptive action and act quickly to resolve problems.
  • Introduce improvements to the way things are done.
  • Develop innovative practices. Value innovative thinking.
  • Learn new skills that will enhance capability.

Example answers for application forms and interviews

Can you give me an example of a time when you have had to co-ordinate the work of other people?

Context: I was Social Secretary of the European Society on campus. We decided to mark Europe Day last May by organising a programme of social and cultural events representing all the EU member countries. I had to find people willing to take part: some were members of our own Society but I also approached other societies on campus, such as the French Society, and had to seek out individuals to make sure that all 15 countries were represented.

Action: Once I had a full complement of people willing to contribute I could draw up a programme of events for the day and we held regular meetings to monitor progress and iron out any problems.

Result: On the day, there were 15 different events running from a French breakfast with coffee and croissants through films, lectures and musical recitals through to a late-night disco with music from all over Europe. Several hundred students took part in them and the European Society signed up over 30 new members


Describe a time when you have managed your own performance or the performance of others to achieve results. What did you do?

Context: When I volunteered at an Oxfam Charity Shop, there were very few employees. I was therefore given a large amount of responsibility from my first day.

Action: As I was often the only employee in the actual shop, it was necessary for me to manage the maintenance of the store – as new volunteers were recruited it became my duty to train them in a variety of tasks. I had to learn to delegate responsibility and learn how to handle occasionally difficult customers with tact.

Result: I learned a lot about how to take responsibility and it gave me confidence that I could enter a management role at some stage in the future.


Careers and Employability Service - © University of Kent

The University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7ND, T: +44 (0)1227 764000 ext. 3299

Last Updated: 16/08/2021