SWOT Analysis of President George Weah

Photo credit: Sharon McCutcheon

Photo credit: Sharon McCutcheon

You are likely to become a successful leader if you use and develop your personal skills, talents and resources to their fullest extent. But you will only find it easier to achieve your goals if you manage to overcome your difficulties, take the greatest advantage of possibilities available to you and avoid any potential danger you could be facing.

One specific tool that could greatly assist you to becoming a successful leader is using the SWOT analysis. Simply by identifying your existing personal Strengths and Weaknesses, external Opportunities and potential Threats exposed to you, this powerful tool helps you design and chart a clear personal strategy to effectively achieve your pre-set goals.

When applying this tool to how George Weah – former international football star, became President of Liberia, it is easy to see how applicable this tool is to ensure our strengths and weaknesses are improved upon, as well as becoming aware of threats and opportunities that we may capitalise on. 

Shortly after retiring from his very successful football profession in 2003, George Weah decided to get involved in the political arena of his native country, Liberia, and took part in a series of elections with mixed results. Initially in 2005, he ran unsuccessfully for the Presidential post of Liberia, losing in the second round ballot to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a Harvard-educated opponent who had previously exercised different political functions and held important posts at international organisations including the United Nations and the World Bank. 

In 2011, Weah ran again in vain for the vice-presidency role in a voting ticket alongside Winston Tubman. In 2014, he got elected for a seat at the National Senate and finally succeeded in becoming President in 2017, winning a run-off against the incumbent Vice President Joseph Boakai. 

Thanks to his former football career and prestigious achievements, such as being the first and only African player to win the Ballon d'Or and the FIFA World Player of the Year awards, one of Weah’s strengths was being an extremely popular character. He was seen as a figure of inspiration and considered a “success” by the younger generation who aspired to be like him. Weah is also a very charismatic and friendly leader with an innate ability to empathise with people and mobilize masses from all around the nation. He has good communication skills and is very comfortable when speaking in front of audiences.

By contrast, two major internal Weaknesses that negatively affected Weah in 2005 and contributed to foster the perception of him as not being able to lead the country, were those of lacking real experience and understanding of politics and not having any formal higher education. Another negative note was that his electoral campaign was mainly focused on his popularity and his ability to empathise with people, without having any substantial political strategy for winning the election, missing out on finer technical and practical details that a campaign usually requires.

One of the external Opportunities that Weah took advantage of during his first presidential campaign, was that of presenting himself as a candidate of hope, who had never been involved in any political scandal and had limited political affiliations that catered to the system. As an independent candidate, he could confidently ask the electorate to give him the chance to prove his worth as someone that is more relatable to the people. Such discourse was convincing to the younger generation, who were already his fan during his sporting career and rallied to his support when running his political campaign.

One of his greatest external Threats was certainly represented by his very well organized, highly educated and experienced political opponents. Another threat to his candidacy was the prospect that some of his supporters would not vote for him during the ballot, spreading fear that once elected, Weah may not be able to confidently lead the country due to his perceived lack of real understanding of political matters and experience in the field.

After reviewing his personal Strengths and Weaknesses and external Opportunities and Threats related to his first election in 2005, we can now consider steps he had taken to achieve his ultimate goal of becoming a stronger and successful leader as the newest President of Liberia.

In the simplest term, Weah did exactly what a SWOT analysis allows you to do. After his initial electoral disappointments, he had useful insights from his failures to design a more strategic plan. He recognized that a lack of experience and limited instruction had not only become campaign issues, but were also one of the main cause of his defeats. To overturn these threats, he went on to completing his high school diploma, and in 2007, he decided to pursue a degree in Business Administration at DeVry University in Miami, giving him his educational qualification.

He further developed his strengths by positioning himself as an individual that is relatable to the younger generation and an authoritative figure who can be trusted by the masses. He acknowledged his major weaknesses of lacking political experience by involving himself in more political matters of his country. In 2014, he decided it was time to gain some real political know-how by starting from a lower level by running for the Senate elections, ultimately winning a seat and becoming a member of one of the legislative branches of the State. Thanks to these steps, he had overcome his biggest weaknesses and turned them into his personal strengths.

With his weaknesses now overturned into major assets, Weah was able to take advantage of opportunities and neutralize any remaining threats that could stand in the way of his Presidential campaign. He was ready to demonstrate to the electorate and to his opponents that he was not only a popular candidate, but he had become a strong leader in the process of his evolution.

When he ran for the presidency in 2017, he had eliminated all his major weaknesses, created a clear electoral programme and strategy, and showed his opponents that he was not a rookie candidate.

Positioning himself as a candidate of hope, who had gained his education through hard work and sheer determination, and earned a respectable amount of political experience, he was able to demonstrate to the electorate that anyone is capable to running the country when they tried hard enough. This allowed Weah to address dissatisfaction towards prior rulers of the country and gave him the chance to promise to his people that he could succeed where they had failed.

George Weah and his political career is a striking example of how a SWOT analysis could help you not only become the best version of yourself, but also allow you to define a future strategic plan to successfully achieve your goals. By knowing where you excel and where you need improvement, a SWOT analysis will help you identify the necessary steps you need to take in order to be better prepared for your endeavours and become the kind of leader your context requires. At the same time, it will allow you to anticipate and neutralize areas that could be potential issues and possibly turn them into opportunities.

In addition, learning more about yourself and your outside environment will allow you to not only understand how to sharpen the skills you need to advance, but will also give you the chance to uncover breaks and overstep obstacles that might otherwise keep you from moving forward, staying ahead of the competition.