In our first post on the subject of power and influence in matrix management we looked at what sources of power were open to us, and what were the consequences and limitations of using different types of power (coercive, normative and presence power) in matrix management.

Other sources of power to influence without traditional authority in matrix organization structures include

  • Expert power – from superior knowledge, skills & abilities. This is a really powerful one, if you are the world expert the matrix will flex around you to access your talent and knowledge.
  • Position– The power of role still has legitimacy in matrix management (particularly where solid lines make the “real” boss clear) but may increasingly be shared with others or be for short duration projects etc…
  • Reward– the ability to deliver rewards and punishments – still useful but may share the same limitations as position power above
  • Relationship – The power of trust, shared goals, sense of identification. These so called soft factors (which are actually hard and very effective) are excellent once you have them but time consuming to build – and easy to damage – particularly in reorganizations. The matrix structure can undermine trust, shared goals and identity. With very diverse groups of employees in different locations and timezones there are many opportunities for misunderstanding and misalignment.

If I was trying to build a power base to get things done as a matrix manager I would focus on expertise and relationships as a great place to start – if you have traditional authority that is a bonus in the matrix structure.

What types of power work best in your company?

About the author:

Kevan Hall Kevan Hall is a CEO, author, speaker and trainer in matrix management, virtual teams and global working. He is the author of "Speed Lead - faster, simpler ways to manage people, projects and teams in complex companies, "Making the Matrix work - how matrix managers engage people and cut through complexity", and the "Life in a Matrix" podcasts, videos, cartoons and blog. He is CEO and founder of Global Integration. Company profile: .

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