When we work with experienced managers new to the matrix, we often hear two main objections – how can I be accountable for results when I don’t have control, and how can I get things done when I don’t have authority?
But do we really want to run our organization through control and authority? Can we really only trust others to do things if we have power over them?
Accountability without control is normal in large organisations and always has been. Research shows that the managers that have more control and accountability tend to underperform and that those who can achieve their results through resources they control directly can be efficient but are often siloed.
If you don’t have direct control over resources then you need to engage with others who do to get things done, you need to get out of your silos and show the value of your ideas. This is the essence of the matrix, not an unintended side-effect. However it does mean we need to change the way we spend our time with more effort on alignment and influence.
In our training programs we explore the implications of this for objective setting, metrics and leadership.
Using influence rather than hierarchical authority makes you a better leader, it helps you develop a wider range of skills and is a style more valued by team members than directive leadership. This one is a strange objection, when you challenge people about it almost no one really wants to get things done just through hierarchical power, however it does reveal an underlying reliance on hierarchy which is often counter-productive.
In our training programs we give people tools to visualise, analyse and activate their networks and to exercise influence through authority through a systematic set of influencing tools.
But it starts with the mindset. Ask yourself – would you really like to work for an organization where things only got done through power and control? If you wouldn’t yourself, you can be sure that the people who work for you wouldn’t either.
Often when people worry about accountability without control or influence without authority they tell us they are really looking for new skills and tools to succeed in this more complex environment.
So ask yourself is it more power you need, or better skills?