Skill Will Matrix

Skill Will Matrix is an activity to help you to lead & manage members of your team better. This page shows you how it works in easy-to-follow steps.

If you are in a project situation Skill Will Matrix is a great activity to run at the planning stage because it helps start everyone off on a positive path before the hard work starts.

Skill Will Matrix

The Skill Will Matrix

You can also use it with leadership and management teams to help them think through their strategy for bringing all the key stakeholders into line with their objectives.

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    To inform your decisions on how best to lead and manage individual members of a team.

When Would You Use It?

  • At the planning stage of a project / program.
  • As a leadership team to inform a leadership strategy: how to secure all team members as advocates for the project / program and to ensure their optimal performance.
  • As a leadership team to think through how leadership is demonstrated / what it means etc.

Are There Any Rules?

  • Individual members of the leadership team are required to justify the classification of each team member. What evidence do we have?
  • An agreed strategy for each team member that the whole leadership team signs up to, and possibly plays an active part in, is needed.

Resources Required

  • 1 sheet of flip chart paper with the Skill Will Matrix drawn up and something to stick it onto the walls.
  • ‘Sticky notes’ each with the names of a team member on.
  • 1 sheet of flip chart paper with the Planning Matrix draw on.

Ground Rules

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    A Facilitator should always help the Team to work through the team building exercise.
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    Everyone is on equal footing, i.e. no hierarchy.
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    Everyone freely participates.
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    Focus on the evidence we have to inform the Skill Will classification.
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    Focus on the strategies that we have known to work in the past when completing the Planning Matrix, but also think out of the box!.

Roles & Responsibilities


Leadership Team / Participants

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    Does not provide any answers – complete objectivity is critical.
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    Ensures everyone’s view is heard.
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    Might be the team leader, a member of the team or depending on sensitivities, someone who has not been involved may be more appropriate.
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    Works through the process under the guidance of the facilitator.
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    Listens to the view points of others, their evidence and their view about leadership effectiveness.
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    Works collaboratively with other members of the team to arrive at a consensus solution.


  • 1
    The Facilitator outlines the purpose of the activity – “to arrive at a leadership plan to secure optimal performance from members of the project/program team.”
  • 2
    The Facilitator outlines how the process will unfold, and sets the ‘Ground Rules’ (see separate slide).
  • 3
    The Facilitator selects a ‘Sticky note’ with the name of a team member on it and asks the leadership team the ‘Key Questions’ to get their views about the allocation to a quadrant of the Skill Will Matrix and their reason. The Facilitator supports the group to move towards a consensus and then places the ‘Sticky note’ in the appropriate quadrant.
  • 4
    The Facilitator repeats stage 3 with each project team member.
  • 5
    The Facilitator completes columns 1 and 2 of the Planning Matrix.
  • 6
    The Facilitator supports the group to agree a strategy to secure the optimal performance of each team member and records this in the Planning Matrix.

How To Put Team Members on the Matrix

For the SKILL Dimension

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    What level of relevant skills does this person currently have (in relation to the expectations of the project / program)?

For the WILL Dimension

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    What level of motivation does this person have for securing the outcomes of this project /program and / or for working as a team and / or for ensuring that they perform optimally?

The Planning Matrix

The Planning Matrix for the Skill Will Matrix

Critical Questions for the Leadership Team

The aim is to ideally have a team of strong Advocates. At the very least, however, for the project to be successful there needs to be a critical mass of Advocates.

  • How do we move specific individuals from where they are now to being an advocate? Even the Advocates need be thought about carefully – they might all ‘burn out’!
  • Can the advocates be used to do some ‘shifting’ of the resistors and blockers?
  • How can this be managed and supported?

Secret Sauce

  • The calibration for each team member is relative to the others on the chart, i.e.
  • Does this person (on the whole) have a greater or lesser level of skill or about the same?
  • Is this person (on the whole) as committed to securing outstanding outcomes from the project / programme through their own performance, or about the same?
  • If the group doesn’t agree straight away on the Skill Will Matrix classification for a team member it’s important to press individuals for their evidence base and then to facilitate a debate. Much value is derived from contested positions as it drives out fundamentals regarding leadership and managing.
  • ​Spend time on driving out the most effective strategies for inclusion in the Planning Matrix. Challenge ‘this is what we usually do’ and ask for evidence if impact/effectiveness.
  • It’s ideal if the participants through the facilitation generate ideas re ‘shifting’ the blockers and resisters. There can be some link made here with Leadership Styles. This link provides a theoretical model.
  • Question for the participants: which style(s) would be most appropriate for the people in the four quadrants of the Skill Will Matrix?

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About the Author

Owner of Touchstone Development Ltd which provides bespoke consultancy support for business and public sector organisations using unique Touchstones Management Tools

  • Katie says:

    Has anyone tried Skills Base? I was thinking of using it for this purpose.

  • Ron Marks says:

    Thanks for putting this exercise together, excellent workshop


  • vik says:


  • Zubyer Athar says:

    Hi Nick,

    Great slides and interesting information. I;m increasingly being asked to run workshops and coach our senior leaders. Appreciate the resources. Some I have done before and am familiar with, others are great new take on delivering to suit the audience.

    Keep up the great work.

  • Jonathan says:

    I like this. Keep up the good work.

  • Ana Chacon says:

    Thanks for sharing all this great information. It’s very useful and the best part was the critical question for leadership team and the secret sauce!

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