SWOT

Are you a leader or someone aspiring to be one? A tool that is at your disposal to both better your leadership and team-building skills is the SWOT Analysis. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. In essence, it is a holistic approach to leadership. It addresses both inner pros and cons (strength and weakness) and outer ones (opportunity and threat), giving you the big picture.

It requires a comprehensive perspective on yourself, your team, and your business. SWOT pinpoints the areas that need attention while also showing you where you’re successful.

SWOT Analysis Has a Confusing History.

The history of SWOT Analysis is lengthy and controversial. Some say that two Stanford University professors specializing in organization strategy came up with the idea in the early 1950s. Another professor would then expound on it and create its application later in the same decade. Harvard Business School developed it more in the 1960s, to produce what we use today.

In contrast, other accounts say that it was discovered at Stanford University by a single researcher in the 1960s and 70s. There really is no concrete evidence to indicate one way or the other, and there are many more theories.

The short version of it all is that through several decades, SWOT evolved and grew. It had several different names like WOTS-UP and TOWS. By 1992, it was considered the prime tool of analysis, especially for leaders.

SWOT is a tool for leaders aspiring to become better.

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SWOT analysis business strategy management process concept diagram illustration

How Do You Use SWOT?

Now you know a little bit of its background, how can you apply the SWOT Analysis method? Below is an example of SWOT being used on Google. Look through all of the categories to familiarize yourself with the process.

Strengths

When using SWOT, start with the business’s capabilities. They are usually the easiest to pick out quickly. Abilities are anything that they do very well. It’s something that sets them apart from their competition. Like their specific niche or specialty.

Example SWOT Analysis: Google is one of the most prominent search engines and generates the most online traffic. That’s how the phrase “Google it” came to be. No one says “Firefox” or “Safari” it.

Weaknesses

Once you’ve nailed down their strengths, their discrepancies begin to reveal themselves. What gets left on the wayside after seeing their giftings? Often, it is just something they miss because they are preoccupied with the few things they excel in.

Example SWOT Analysis: a weakness that most everyone hates is that Google advertises all over their pages sometimes covering articles. It helps to generate over eighty percent of Google’s income. It isn’t an advertising company; it is a search engine.

Opportunities

Next, you need to use your knowledge of the business’s strengths to find what opportunities they have available to them. For instance, if they specialize in advertising, they may have a chance to make revenue if a company comes through in need of good advertising. That is an opportunity.

Example SWOT Analysis: Google has a growing market on which it can offer increasingly more products. It allied with innovative companies such as Apple and Samsung to help bring new products to the forefront. With all of these business opportunities, Google could develop a non-ad business model.

Threats

After you discover what your subject’s prospects are, look around for things that might hinder those breakthroughs. That can be in the form of competition or something that might distract a team’s focus. Threats often correlate directly to a group’s weaknesses.

Example SWOT Analysis: Facebook and Amazon are quickly catching up to Google, which will eventually take away Google’s spotlight. If it does not use the attention right now and take advantage of its opportunities, it may no longer be the leading entity in the digital world.

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Problem and Solution

SWOT Affects Good Leadership.

As one of the most used strategies, SWOT sometimes seems like just another way to advance your business. However, SWOT can also be used to create a better form of leadership. If you are an aspiring leader or a leader who wants to improve, SWOT yourself.

Look at your personal strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

What sets you apart from the crowd? In what areas are you gifted? Maybe you have some strong personality traits that could get you places, or you have solid values that others may lack. Press your advantage. Knowing your resources allows you to utilize them to their full potential.

Now think about your weaknesses. In which fields are you unfamiliar? What are your worst personality traits? Do you have some bad work habits? Find a member of your team who counteracts this. Someone else probably has a skill set you lack or knows how to calm you down when you’re angry. Build them up so that when you fail, they can build you back up too.

New possibilities arise around every corner. Knowing yourself (strengths and weaknesses) opens up even more windows of opportunity and allows you to notice when others come your way. Creating your own can just mean getting involved, social networking, actively engaging the community around you. Always keep an eye out for someone or something that could help you and your team.

Analyze your threats. Maybe there are obstacles at your workplace, keeping you from progressing. Is one of your colleagues more gifted in an area than you? External threats often stem from internal weaknesses. So, if you are weak in an area that your co-worker is not, that could threaten your position.

Here’s a tip: turn your threats into opportunities when you can. Maybe your colleague is far better than you at management, but you are better than him with creativity. He is posing a threat to you, so turn it into an opportunity. Ask to team up with him. Offer your innovative ideas in exchange for his help in getting the job done. He may or may not agree, but you planted a seed in his mind, and he may ask you for help in the future.

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SWOT Promotes Strategic Planning.

You’ve seen how a SWOT Analysis can both change your perspective on business and yourself as a leader. To turn this knowledge into a strategic plan, you need to compare and contrast. This is sometimes called the TOWS Analysis.

Basically, you overlap the SWOT acronym with the TOWS. The first letter in each of these is S (strengths) and T (threats). How can you use your abilities to lessen your hazards? Next in line, there are W (weaknesses) and O (opportunities). What shortcomings can lead you to new discoveries? Perhaps you should look for a new co-worker who compliments you well.

The O and W overlap again, and so do the T and S. So just re-analyze your findings. Were you being completely honest about your strengths and weaknesses? What could you add to your SWOT lists?

Allow your findings to direct your strategy.

Conclusion

Here’s a novel thought. Now that you know what the SWOT Analysis is, maybe you should get out there and start applying it. Until you know the full capacity of your community and yourself, you will not be as effective a leader as you could be. So go out into your area of influence and start SWOTing.

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