Ideas for Developing Leaders in the Matrix Organisation


Speed, agility, and the ability to motivate, inspire and influence others in an ever-changing and complex environment is more and more the way leaders will find a competitive edge.

Having spent much of the past 5 years helping companies adopt an enterprise leadership model in order to make a matrix structure work most effectively, here are my top 5 ideas to effect change from within:


  1. 1. Agree the Vocabulary

    The practical understanding of terms like emotional and social intelligence, empathy and influence are not always understood by everyone in an organisation.  Ensure that early on you identify and describe enterprise leadership behaviours in simple, practical terms.


  1. 2. Make Senior Leaders the Role Models

    The right behaviours/skills must be on display within the senior leadership team. Engage quality coaches to assess and develop these if needed. People will be guided by those in authority, and if “the do doesn’t match the tell,” talk of a culture change will be just that…lip service only.


  1. 3. Identify and Mobilise “Integrators”

    Look for groups who can become integrators…those who work across boundaries and with the ability to influence broader groups. For example, train and coach your project managers and work with them to bring approaches, tools and accountability to their project groups.


  1. 4. Reinforce & Expand Success

    Leverage the results of early initiatives to create awareness of and promote good matrix leadership successes.  Build simple, in-house coaching models and accountability tools to support the culture change. Move from the integrators to the managers, supervisors and team leaders.


  1. 5. Promote and Support Storytelling

    Nothing supports a culture like visible successes.  Spotlight project teams and leaders who create value by encouraging more storytelling. This is a powerful means of building institutional memory.


As with all initiatives, a change in leaders’ mindset is critical, but encouraging bottom up, behaviour led change by everyone is one of the real secrets to success.