Chaitanya was a highly-skilled project manager. He knew how to plan and schedule meetings, assign tasks and get everyone on the same page. Under his supervision, teams were able to deliver efficient results. But Chaitanya’s manager transferred him to the operations department. Here, he was required to take care of the inventory, account for deliveries and manage the time tracker. He had to learn these skills from scratch to meet the deliverables.

Chaitanya’s manager failed to see his strengths, affecting the efficient system he had put in place as a project manager.

Good leadership isn’t just about directing and giving orders. It’s about assessing the skills and willingness of your employees to fulfill a particular task. An efficient tool to identify how a manager should distribute teamwork is the skills matrix.

Let’s look at the employee skills matrix and how it can help you become an effective leader.

What Is A Skills Matrix?

Leadership development expert Max Landsberg has defined the skill-will matrix in his book, The Tao of Coaching. He developed it as a critical management tool to streamline teamwork. Knowing how to assign tasks based on the skills and willingness of different members is a valuable workplace skill.

According to the skill will matrix, a manager should consider two aspects while leading a team:

  1. Skill: Skill refers to employees’ abilities and what they’re good at. These skills could be time management, expertise in a subject or experience.

  1. Will: Will refers to the employee’s desire to complete a task based on his commitment, approach and response.

A skill will matrix is a helpful tool to build a dynamic, efficient and organized team of high performers.

Important Aspects Of A Skill Will Matrix

You have to understand when to use the skills matrix for effective results. Each matrix is particular to a task, action or situation. The matrix recommends what a manager should do in certain scenarios for optimal outcomes.

Let’s look at the structure of a skills matrix:

The employee skills matrix is divided into four quadrants. The X-axis determines the ‘skill’ from low to high, the Y-axis determines the ‘will’ from low to high. Here’s what the various quadrants indicate.

  1. Top-right: high skill, high will

In this quadrant, an employee is highly skilled and shows an equally high willingness to complete the task.

  1. Bottom-right: high skill, low will

In this quadrant, an employee has the right skill set but isn’t too keen on completing the task.

  1. Top-left: low skill, high will

Here, an employee doesn’t possess the right skills required for the task but shows a high willingness to do it.

  1. Bottom-left: low skill, low will

In this quadrant, an employee doesn’t have the right skills or the willingness to complete the task.

Based on the skill and will matrix, a manager or leader can decide to whom they should assign specific tasks. If, for instance, the task is to present a client pitch, a manager can assess who’s good at public speaking and keen on building a strong professional network.

Each of the four quadrants of an employee skills matrix is associated with leadership skills.

Skills Matrix Leadership Skills

Determine how you should lead your employees based on the skills matrix.

  1. High skill, high will—empower

It means that you should empower your employees to take initiative and be proactive. Encouraging them to take responsibility and be accountable for their work will help them achieve their goals.

  1. High skill, low will—motivate

This means that you should motivate your employees until they show their willingness for the task. You can discuss why they’re feeling demotivated, appreciate their efforts and figure out ways to push them to take meaningful action.

  1. Low skill, high will—guide

This means that you should guide your employees to improve their skills with training, learning or practice. It’s important to set the right expectations, assess their progress and provide feedback.

  1. Low skill, low will—direct

This means that you have to find a way to direct your employees and encourage them to build on their skills. You can discuss strategies for growth, empathize with them and provide necessary training to boost their morale.

An effective leader can recognize areas for improvement and lead their team to success. You can implement a skill-will matrix next time you’re trying to make a decision.

Learn more about how to manage teams and lead effectively with Harappa Education’s Managing Teamwork course. You’ll learn more about how to use the skill and will matrix for optimal results. Encourage collaboration, give and receive feedback and focus on team formation for a healthy work environment. You can be a valuable leader who leads by example. Equip yourself with the right tools to manage your team like an expert.


Explore topics such as What is the Importance of Teamwork, What is Team Building & Team Building Activities from Harappa Diaries and learn to manage teams efficiently.

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