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Can you give an example of a time you were a leader?

How do I answer this question during #interviews ?

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Pamela’s Answer

Jessica, good morning

Great question! I'll answer this question a couple of different ways.

First, if this is for an interview: always answer with STAR:
S = Situation - set the scene with describing the who, what, and when.
T = Task - talk about the objective or issue you had to overcome.
A = Action - talk about the actions you took to solve the situation.
R = Results - what were the results of your actions &/or decisions made, how did it impact the business or project.

Secondly, you can be a Leader without the work/job title - at any time. You become a Leader by serving others, demonstrating what right looks like - even when you think no one is looking or listening. I've held Leadership roles for the majority of my career and when mentoring others, I tell them this; 'as a Leader, your job is to be a service to your team, it becomes all about the Team, it is NOT about YOU - ever. So if you just want the title, you will not be successful."

Consistency as a Leader is important regarding your:
Behaviors: act as you'd like to see your Team behave. They will follow your example, in what you do and say.
Attitude: look for the good and you'll find it! Look for the bad and you'll find it!
Patience & Kindness: set clear expectations of what you expect from the Team, walk the walk, talk the talk (lead by example), be prepared to repeat yourself, NEVER let the Team see you lose your cool (if you do, they think they can), and always be kind.

As I said, I currently do and have held many Leadership roles over my career. Here is how my Teams described me: firm, fair, & consistent.
I've had an employee tell me, "I'd walk through fire for you." You can't buy loyalty, you earn it.

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Kim’s Answer


Hi! You ask some good questions. Several of these appear to be interview questions. So, I wanted to address the proper format for answering these questions, in case you do not know it.

That is, you tell a story. You need to put the interviewer in your shoes, so they will feel what you were feeling at the moment! There is an acronym: STAR. This is the format for your answer.


Here's an example I like to use, as it highlights my ability to see the big picture, and that I get along with others outside of my immediate unit. When you are answering these questions, you want the best possible example you can think of that really makes you stand out!

(situation): I was working as an Airport Police Officer. It was 430 am, and construction crews had cut a power line for half of the terminal building. While the jetways still worked, and there was emergency lighting, the security doors had all come unlocked and would allow public access to the airfield. The morning flights were due to take off starting at 530. But, we couldn't let the public into the area because of the security concern. We did not have enough officers to guard all the doors.
(task) We needed to find a way to guard or secure the doors, so the flights could take off on time. When flights don't take off on time, it has a ripple effect throughout the entire country!
(action) I contacted the maintenance foreman, and explained the problem to him. I asked if we could use his custodians to guard the doors, with an officer patrolling the hall within shouting distance. He agreed to let me borrow his employees for this purpose. I quickly briefed the employees, telling them to not let ANYONE exit through the doors, even if they had an airport ID badge, as not all badges grant access to that area.
(results) all planes departed on time, with no breach of security.

Keep asking questions!

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Estelle’s Answer

This is a tricky question as leadership takes on different shades depending on who is the leader and who is being led. I have worked and managed many people and the best managers or leaders that I have worked for exhibit several common characteristics. 1 knowledge of the area of expertise they are leading in, such as being a doctor leading a trauma team. The doctor has to have knowledge to know how to direct people to do the proper things at the right time. 2. Empathy and compassion. People who care about the people under them tend to be accepted as a leader. If everyone does not like to person in charge then the led will do the minimum work and not step up to do extraordinary things. 3. Be a servant leader of people not a bully leader. People are more likely to follow someone who they feel has their best interest at heart and not the leader just wanting everything for themselves. Remember great leaders are leaders that were great for the moment in time that they were needed. Like Washington, Lincoln, Patton etc. They were great leaders and people followed them at the correct moment in time. At other times in their lives they were ordinary or exhibited characteristics that pushed people away and not to be followed. Hope that helps.

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Sharhonda’s Answer

Working in internal audit means I am constantly taking the lead on investigations as well as working with various leaders in the organization. This typically means working with outside vendors, employees and management at different levels for the life of the investigations which can be a few days to a few months. I cant say its always easy to be the leader though, you have to make some tough calls and be willing to stand by them as well as explain them. You also have to be a support system for the people you're working with and support their tough calls. As difficult as it can be its not without its rewards. Seeing others succeed and generally doing good is rewarding in its own way.

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Blake’s Answer

Hey Jessica,

It's difficult to say a time that I was a "leader" but I could give you a good example of how I "led" in a certain situation. When I first began my professional career, I struggled understanding parts of the business. I felt that I was "supposed" to know all of the answers since I was the manager, but I didn't. So, understanding that GAP, I asked my team members for help. I let them know that I wasn't sure, and what they thought would be the best course of action. To me, a great leader is humble and can always learn from anyone, not just their superiors. You, or I, or anyone will never know the answer to everything and that's okay.