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How a SWOT Analysis Can Transform Your Leadership

The SWOT analysis is one of the most-used tools by leaders, and with good reason. When used correctly, identifying your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats provides a foundation for effective strategic planning. As the CEO of Prologis, we included a SWOT analysis every year as we mapped out plans for our future.

A SWOT analysis helps identify the key internal and external factors involved in achieving your goals and objectives. In some organizations, this analysis revolves around things like product, price, promotion, and place (the 4 Ps of marketing). Or, if you prefer Cs to Ps, you can go with consumer, cost, communication, and convenience. And when it comes to external factors, it typically zeros in on the competition, government actions, or maybe changing consumer tastes.

But what if you applied this approach not only to your organizational strategy, but to leadership? Imagine the self-awareness it could create and the positive results that could follow if you deepened your understanding of your leadership and your team’s leadership.

The strengths are pretty easy for most leaders to identify, but weaknesses and threats often are ignored or unseen. That’s because leaders tend to focus on the external circumstances that impact their leadership – weaknesses around them or threats by others to them. They end up missing what’s within them.

So, what’s the biggest weakness in or threat to your leadership? I’ll go out on a limb and suggest that we all have at least two weakness in common and both are a threat to our leadership: Fears and pride.

I believe most organizations lose their edge – and then their share of business – because their leaders fail to recognize and address their fears and/or pride. One or both of those factors ends up preventing leaders from responding appropriately to market trends, and that’s when the slide to failure begins.

Take a look at yourself and your team and see if any of these warning signs are evident:

Silence that’s not golden

Do your meetings include little debate or discussion? Leaders who succumb to pride and fear, tend to shut down collaborative exchange. If no one is questioning your decisions when you’re in the room, then you have a problem.

Your tail is wagging your dog

When fear rules the heart of a leader, external factors can have too much influence on decisions. For instance, if your actions are based on the thought that “if we don’t do this, our competitors will” rather than “we should do this because it’s what’s best for our company,” then you have a problem.

Can’t touch this

Pride has a way of distorting our view of reality and making us think we’re bullet proof. You might be a great leader in your organization and your organization might be the best, by far, at whatever it does. But if your leadership is shaped by those thoughts, and especially if that’s your reasoning for decisions, then you have a problem.

When you do a SWOT analysis of your leadership, invite others to participate – through a 360 assessment, through mentors or coaches, or just by asking others what they think. Consider your strengths, but identify your true leadership weaknesses and threats. Then use that information as you embrace the opportunities that emerge for your new-found self-awareness.

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