Another one of those serendipitous moments on Twitter yesterday… a former colleague from Reuters, Charles Jennings, tweeted:
In my glibly sarcastic way, I responded that it was curious that people never talk about “matrix leadership”.
Given a few hours now to reflect on that short conversation, I’ve really come to think that it’s remarkably strange that we talk about these two disciplines in these ways. The distinction between the two is subject to long debate, but in my mind management is about control, and leadership about direction and inspiration.
Leadership is something that we can all display and do. Management responsibility, however, is bestowed upon us, usually with quite specific constraints and boundaries in the corporate world.
As Charles’ quote so elegantly puts it, matrix management is doomed to screwing people up. Control exerted in multiple, often cross divisional and contradictory directions is like some sort of psychological torture.
Actually, for these matrices to work, without recourse to rank or structure, it’s leadership that really makes the difference. For me, that’s a lightbulb moment.