Skill, Will, and…Micromanagement?

Nowhere in the job description are the words “watch their every move.” 

Recently, I had the privilege of leading a classroom of MBA students through a discussion on influencing and team building.  During the discussion I dusted off the old “skill-will” matrix.

You know?  The skill will matrix?  It’s the one that lets you consider the people you lead by their level of skill and their level of will, and to lead or manage them accordingly.  It looks like this:


It’s a useful tool at a superficial level.  It can certainly help leaders, especially leaders struggling to establish a leadership style, to handle diverse teams.

It’s kind of a Kenny Rogers “The Gambler” approach to leadership:  Know when to guide ’em, know when to excite ’em…

It brought to mind an interesting reality:  “Micromanage” isn’t on the matrix.

A lot of bad leaders (and good leaders in bad times) need to learn this.

Sure, people with a combination of low skill and low will need more direction.  They also might need to be redeployed against different work; and that’s the rub…If you are micromanaging, one of you is redundant.

Micromanagement is neither inspiring nor sustainable.

So What?  

This one is straightforward.  Two sides of the coin deserve discussion:

If you as leader find yourself having to micromanage, you are probably either deploying talent inefficiently (i.e., against problems that are beyond the talent), or you are insecure.

Figure out which it is and fix it.

If you as a follower find yourself being micromanaged, you are either under-delivering, or you need to insist on a heart to heart with your leader.

In either event, it isn’t a sustainable proposition; so why start it in the first place?

Use the matrix, know when to delegate and when to direct.  But, know when too much is too much.

What do you think? 

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