Matrix Leadership – tips for the top

Right at the very top of organizations the matrix structure may have relatively little impact – after all everyone still works for you! This can lead to senior mangers underestimating the degree of difficulty their colleagues face in matrix management and in making the matrix organization structure work in practice.

The role of senior matrix leaders is, however, critical. They need to sponsor the matrix structure, remove barreirs and at the same time make sure we only implement the structure in areas where it adds value.

  • Demystifying the matrix and communicating why it exists are critical
  • They need to remove political and legacy cultural barriers to the success of the matrix structure (including senior managers who cannot adapt to the new style of matrix management)
  • They need to manage escalation to ensure capability is built at the right level in the matrix.
  • They need to decide where to build the new matrixed networks and communities that make the matrix structure work
  • And above all they need to provide clarity on direction – not the day to day detail but the direction that allows competing priorities further down the matrix organization to be resolved in the interest of the organization as a whole.

Deeper into the leadership of the organization are the leaders who operate where the matrix reporting lines intersect, we call them the matrixed middle – more on matrix leadership and matrix management at this level in a future post.

Do your senior matrix leaders do a good job of providing this leadership?

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