The MAGIC formula:
I have been working as a close-up magician for the last 25 years. I have entertained at thousands of events – hundreds of tables at weddings, corporate parties and significant birthdays.
At the same time, in the other half of my life, I have led and been a member of several teams. Recently, I have been interviewing many other team leaders about their experiences and challenges. Many thanks if you are one of them!
I have observed that many of the challenges facing a close-up magician approaching a table of guests are very similar to those facing team leaders. I have also realised that the MAGIC formula may be applied in both situations.
Continuing my journey around the wedding table… We have met Tarquin, the silverback and Clint, the critical analyst. Now we come to Matilda, a 10-year-old who wants to show me her card trick. Her parents are telling me that Matilda has a special trick to show me. I know with almost 90% certainty that this trick will involve her dealing out 21 cards several times. It takes a long time and a lot of table space, and she will probably make a mistake and have to start again. The energy on the table will drop, and this will kill the flow of my routine. What to do? Matilda is bouncing up and down in her seat with enthusiasm.
The best thing to do is to ask her, with a smile, what the trick involves. If I find out it is the 21 card trick, I will suggest that she show it to me at a separate table after I have finished my time with this group. I promise that I will help her to make it even better. Most of the time, this works really well.
Don’t Dampen, Channel
Maybe you have someone a bit like Matilda on your team? I call them “blinkered enthusiasts”; they are desperate to show you their latest project, to explain at length their theories, or to describe what they have been working on. They are blind to the fact that this will render the rest of the team bored, kill the energy of a meeting, or distract from the main point of discussion. However, you do not want to dampen their enthusiasm. So what do you do?
Well, the first thing is to show appreciation, then maybe you can move their detailed explanation to a separate meeting in an encouraging way. For example, “That sounds brilliant. I don’t think we have time to go into it in detail here, but can I give you a call about that later on? Maybe two or three of us could get together to explore that and your ideas in a separate meeting, so that we can give it the time it deserves?” And then, in the separate meeting, you want to be as encouraging as possible and to suggest possible next steps.
Talking to someone like Matilda at a wedding, I might suggest magic books or videos that she could watch. For a team member, you might want to recommend some reading material or, quite possibly, establish a coaching or mentoring relationship with yourself or somebody else to help them grow and develop their ideas and awareness of how they fit into the rest of the team.
You need enthusiasts on your team because they will give the energy and time to projects that no one else will. But you also need to manage them carefully so they do not alienate the rest of the team and distract from everything else that is going on. In the kindest way possible, you have to teach them that “less is more” when it comes to whole team gatherings. Dealing with them requires much sensitivity. You don’t want to quench their spirit. But you need to challenge them and channel them in the right way.
Do you have a Matilda on your team? How will you harness their enthusiasm?
I would like to interview even more team leaders to gain insight into the challenges they face. This is so that I can design an effective resource for use by team leaders in many different situations. I am talking to leaders of both permanent and temporary teams.
The research involves a 15 minute Zoom call. Thank you to those who have already done it – much appreciated!
Please pass this on to any team leaders that you know.
If you are a team leader and would like to help, please book in here: