I recently had the pleasure of being on a Learning and Development panel organized by Humentum, where I met Clarice Gathura who talked about a will and skill matrix.
My ears perked up at the mention of a matrix, as matrixes tend to take complicated information and simplify it without making it simplistic.
So I leaned in and asked for more.
The will and skill matrix comes from Situational Leadership and essentially looks at two things:
- Will – you or your team’s motivation level, how willing are you to undertake a task, tackle a problem, etc.
- Skill – how knowledgeable and experienced are you or your team when it comes to a specific skill set.
When you put will and skill on a matrix you come up with four options:
- Low will, low skill
- Low will, high skill
- High will, low skill
- High will, high skill
And these four options turn into these four outcomes:
- Unable and Unwilling
- Unable but Willing
- Able but Unwilling
- Able and Willing
So what’s a somewhat harried, sometimes overwhelmed person to do with this information?
Here are 5 ideas:
- If you’re facing an interpersonal conflict see if it’s a case of will and/or skill
- If your team is struggling, have a dialogue about whether will and skill are playing a role
- Look at amping up your and your team’s will by examining motivational factors. Here’s a simple survey I designed to let you know what specifically motivates you.
- Look at addressing issues of skill by designing a learning plan
- Adapt your leadership style based on which quadrant your team is in (see below for more information which is from Situational Leadership Model by Hersey and Blanchard).
Which quadrant is your team in?
- Low will, low skill (Unable and Unwilling) → Telling; instruction, directions
- Low will, high skill (Unable but Willing) → Selling; persuasion, encouragement, incentives
- High will, low skill (Able but Unwilling) → Participating; involvement, consulting, teamwork
- High will, high skill (Able and Willing) → Delegating; trust, empowerment, responsibility
The next time you’re floundering or feeling like you’re up against the wall, check yourself and your team for your will and skill quotients. Then give yourself or your team a pep talk to address ‘will,’ and/or do some training to address ‘skill’ or get out of the way and let those with high will and skill do their thing.
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