What would your personal SWOT analysis look like if I asked you to do one right now? Would you be happy with it? Or do we have some work to do?
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What Is A SWOT Analysis?
Most of you will know what a SWOT analysis is, yes? It’s a mnemonic device for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. It is a four-quadrant tool often used to help assess an opportunity or initiative in a planning or viability sense, so as to checkpoint all or most possible scenarios (for and against) before embarking on it.
As the embedded photo shows, the Strengths and Weaknesses are internal perspectives, whereas Opportunities and Threats look more outside of the organisation or initiative. And we can help differentiate helpful from harmful.
Changing SWOT Analysis into SCLH Analysis
In my decade of coaching hundreds of business executives, owners and hi-potential professionals, I have adapted it into a more career oriented tool. I changed this to Strengths, Challenges, Loves & Hates, (SCLH) making up the four quadrants slightly differently:
- Strengths – are what you know and are acknowledged to do really well
- Challenges – are what you are (still) wrestling or struggling with
- Loves – are what you just love and revel in doing
- Hates – are things you dislike doing or just aren’t ever going to be any good at.
Using A SWOT (SCLH) Analysis in Career Management
I have found these headings to be more relevant for my client’s objectives to help pathway their careers.
The way we have used this in the career management sense is to have the client reflect on your career and capture a good number of relevant and fitting attributes across each of the 4 quadrants.
I also urge you to seek some feedback on your strengths from people that know you really well. It’s remarkable how often they acknowledge us for a strength we had forgotten or weren’t aware that we had.
All these attributes should clearly reflect your assessment on your skills, competencies and your personal attributes, but in a professional career sense.
Your SWOT Analysis – Assets
Looking at the two left-hand quadrants – Strengths and Loves, I like to classify them as your “assets”, or things that you can leverage exceptionally well and love doing best. These are the ones you’ll want to focus most of your energy on utilizing as well as you can. Why? Because you’ll find them energizing, effortless and fun and probably more easily able to generate great outcomes or results with.
In a career planning sense, these are the aspects we want to be sure are maximized in terms of their prevalence in the roles you choose. If the quantity and quality of these lag behind your below-mentioned “liabilities” in terms of a role you might be planning or going after, then that should be a red flag worth watching out for. You’re in control of your career, remember?
Your SWOT Analysis – Liabilities
The two right hand quadrants (Challenges & Hates) I like to call “liabilities”, or things that don’t come that easily to you. They require more energy or even drain you. Why? Because they might not come as naturally to you and need much more “push” to get and keep going, right? They are often the ones we find ourselves procrastinating on. Not that we can’t or won’t do them. It’s just that they feel that much harder to do, don’t they?
Now if you come across a role that has neither challenges or things you dislike, please let me know. I’d love to see if such a role exists. (smiley face). Seriously though, of course we are going to be exposed to challenges. How ever else would we grow, if we weren’t? And of course we’re going to have to do things we aren’t any good at or dislike. That’s the way it is, right?
But how many times have we actually “had to” do something that after a while we found to be “not that bad” or that we actually excelled at it with time and practice, and realized that we actually enjoy it. Open mind, OK?
What To Do With Your “Liabilities”
What I’m advocating is a matter of balance. That your next role(s) are sure to have an excess of assets over your perceived liabilities.
And I also coach many a client already in or striving for leadership positions to seek opportunities to enable two possibilities with these “liabilities”:
- delegate them, if you can, to others that may be very well skilled in, equipped for or disposed towards these tasks, or
- outsource them if they aren’t part of your (or your organisation’s) mainstream skillset or leverage.
A Personal SWOT Analysis Impact Story
I often share the story of a lady I came to coach in a large, iconic Australian corporate. She had been contracted to the organisation for almost a decade for a very specialist type competency. They convinced her to become employed as a leader, and I came to be her coach. I shared this SCLH exercise with her and when we met again a few weeks later I checked in how she’d gone. She said she’d quit. Gulp! It made her recognize the imbalance between her personal assets and liabilities, which had also manifest in some health challenges. And so she used this insight as a clear decision making tool to change things to where they suited her life and her agenda. Taking control, right?
Your Personal SWOT Analysis – So What
So where might this conversation have taken you in terms of your own personal SWOT analysis? Any glaring, niggling realities come home to roost? Any recognition of certain imbalances you have simply allowed to “grow on you”? Any feel for what you might be missing (out on)?
Go on, why not give this exercise some attention and “have a go“? And what if, like the lady I mentioned in the example, it has a profound effect on your career planning and career management? What if you used some clear signals to help signpost some changes you have known deep down for a while, that you need to act on them?
What if you could?