skill-will-matrix

What Is The Skill Will Matrix? The Skill Will Matrix In A Nutshell

The skill will matrix was created by behavioral scientist Paul Hersey and business consultant Ken Blanchard in the 1970s. The skill will matrix is a tool used to assess the skill level and willingness of an individual to perform a specific task based on four key profiles: Guide (high will/low skill), Delegate (high will/high skill), Direct (low will/low skill), Excite (low will/high skill).

Understanding the skill will matrix

The matrix, which is based on a situational leadership model, is used by managers to assess the skill and willingness of a subordinate to complete a specific task.

The manager then uses feedback from the assessment to determine a style of leadership most likely to increase subordinate performance. 

Before moving to the next section, it may be helpful to first define skill and will:

Skill

Or any ability enabling the subordinate to do something well.

This may be prior experience, training, knowledge, or natural talent.

Will

Or the determination to do something despite difficulties or opposition. How motivated is the subordinate in performing a task?

What is their attitude? Will is typically influenced by organizational culture, professional aspirations, and the personal life of the employee.

The four quadrants of the skill will matrix

Varying degrees of skill and will can be represented on a 2×2 matrix with four quadrants.

Though individuals rarely occupy a single quadrant the majority of the time, managers can use each quadrant to define a coaching style most likely to result in subordinate success.

Let’s now take a look at each of the four coaching styles/quadrants below:

Guide (high will/low skill)

These individuals are enthusiastic and energetic but lack the necessary skills to do a good job.

The manager should discuss and establish methods, provide training and feedback, and accept beginner mistakes as a tool for growth.

Tasks should also be structured to minimize possible risks to the company and any small successes should be praised or rewarded.

Delegate (high will/high skill)

Individuals who are highly competent and motivated represent the best return on investment for the organization.

Managers need to invest in enabling these individuals to reach their full potential.

This may involve extra delegation, responsibility, or a role in the development of other team members.

Given their value to a company, strategies should focus on retention by maintaining enthusiasm.

Direct (low will/low skill)

Here, the focus must be on building both skill and will.

This starts with the manager identifying the reason a subordinate is in this situation.

They may have an underlying attitude problem or simply be in the wrong role.

It’s important management resist the urge to discipline the subordinate or consign them to the too hard basket.

In many cases, competence and motivation can be increased by giving individuals the chance to improve with highly directed action, feedback, and incentivization.

Excite (low will/high skill)

These are capable subordinates who are most likely meeting performance targets and otherwise satisfying the requirements of their role.

However, individuals in this quadrant are sometimes called “grumpy experts” because they may demonstrate behaviors or attitudes that negatively impact others.

This is particularly true for stalwarts, or long-term members of an organization who have become comfortable in their roles and may be looking for a promotion.

To counter this, management should give extra responsibility and authority to the subordinate in line with their competence or skill level.

In the event this strategy fails, the underlying reasons for the lack of motivation should be identified and addressed.

Key takeaways

  • The skill will matrix is a tool used to assess the skill level and willingness of an individual to perform a specific task. It was developed in the 1970s by behavioral scientist Paul Hersey and business consultant Ken Blanchard.
  • The skill will matrix measures the skill and will level of an employee. Skill can be defined as any knowledge, talent, or ability enabling the employee to do something well. Will is the ability to perform a task despite difficulties and is influenced by motivation, culture, and personal attitude.
  • The skill will matrix defines four quadrants, with each quadrant defining a coaching style most likely to result in subordinate success. The four quadrants are guide, delegate, direct, and excite.

Leadership Frameworks

Hierarchical Organizational Structure

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Flat Organizational Structure

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Holacracy

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Flatarchy

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Change Management

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Distributed Leadership

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Distributed leadership is based on the premise that leadership responsibilities and accountability are shared by those with the relevant skills or expertise so that the shared responsibility and accountability of multiple individuals within a workplace, bulds up as a fluid and emergent property (not controlled or held by one individual). Distributed leadership is based on eight hallmarks, or principles: shared responsibility, shared power, synergy, leadership capacity, organizational learning, equitable and ethical climate, democratic and investigative culture, and macro-community engagement.

Micromanagement

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Agile Leadership

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Active Listening

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Adaptive Leadership

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Connected Business Matrices

SFA Matrix

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Hoshin Kanri X-Matrix

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Kepner-Tregoe Matrix

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Eisenhower Matrix

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Action Priority Matrix

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TOWS Matrix

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GE McKinsey Matrix

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BCG Matrix

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In the 1970s, Bruce D. Henderson, founder of the Boston Consulting Group, came up with The Product Portfolio (aka BCG Matrix, or Growth-share Matrix), which would look at a successful business product portfolio based on potential growth and market shares. It divided products into four main categories: cash cows, pets (dogs), question marks, and stars.

Growth Matrix

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Ansoff Matrix

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You can use the Ansoff Matrix as a strategic framework to understand what growth strategy is more suited based on the market context. Developed by mathematician and business manager Igor Ansoff, it assumes a growth strategy can be derived by whether the market is new or existing, and the product is new or existing.

Kraljic Matrix

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The Kraljic matrix is a framework that analyzes and classifies a company’s supplier base. Kraljic’s matrix is used by purchasers to maximize supply security/minimize supply risk and reduce costs. In so doing, it encourages them to see procurement as a strategic activity and not one that is simply transactional. The Kraljic matrix is divided into four quadrants based on varying degrees of supply risk and profit impact. Each quadrant defines a type of supply item and a strategy that reduces risk and cost. The quadrants encompass leverage items, bottleneck items, non-critical items, and strategic items.

Product-Process Matrix

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The product-process matrix was introduced in two articles published in the Harvard Business Review in 1979. Developed by Robert H. Hayes and Steven C. Wheelwright, the matrix assesses the relationship between The stages of the product life cycle (from ideation to growth or decline) and The stages of the process (technological) life cycle.

Mendelow Stakeholder Matrix

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The Mendelow stakeholder matrix is a framework used to analyze stakeholder attitudes and expectations and their potential impact on business decisions.

Requirements Traceability Matrix

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A requirements traceability matrix (RTM) is a vital part of the lifecycle of any embedded system, helping organizations ensure their products are safe and meet intended standards. While the matrix has long been associated with medicine, technology, and engineering, the approach works well for any project regardless of industry. A requirements traceability matrix is a tool used to identify and maintain the status of project requirements and deliverables.

Value/Effort Matrix

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The value/effort matrix is a feature prioritization model used to build effective product roadmaps. The value/effort matrix allows product managers to prioritize their product backlog using a confident, structured approach. The product team learns how to plan an effective roadmap, identify boundaries of work, and differentiate between needs and wants.

Decision Matrix

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A decision matrix is a decision-making tool that evaluates and prioritizes a list of options. Decision matrices are useful when: A list of options must be trimmed to a single choice. A decision must be made based on several criteria. A list of criteria has been made manageable through the process of elimination.

Cash Flow Statement Matrix

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Grand Strategy Matrix

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The grand strategy matrix was created by American business theorist Paul Joseph DiMaggio in 1980. The matrix, which first appeared in the Strategic Management Journal, was initially used as a strategic option tool for managers.  The grand strategy matrix helps organizations develop feasible alternative strategies based on their competitive position and the growth of their industry.

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