The MAGIC Formula – Dealing with an Entitled Team Member

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.

Home on the Range Rover

The last person to meet at this wedding guests table is 17-year old Taramasalata. She is sitting next to her dad, Tarquin the Silverback, who has been ostentatiously boasting about his wealth and rich-person-type activities. Tara (for short) has been talking about how she has been learning to drive in her new Range Rover on the family’s second field and how it was such a hassle because they had to move the pony.

With my comprehensive school chip on my shoulder, I have a strong urge to slap her around the face and tell her to get a life, meet the real world, and wake up and smell the coffee. Who does she think she is?! She wouldn’t have all this if it wasn’t for an accident of birth and daddy’s money. How can she be so crashingly insensitive to the rest of those around the table?

Entitlement Resentment

OK, maybe I have painted an extreme caricature of an entitled teen. However, I am reasonably confident that those feelings of incredulity mingled with slight resentment are familiar to many people to some extent.

Do you have someone on your team who raises even a fraction of these emotions in you? You feel that they are only there because they are related to the boss, whereas you had to work your way up or get the job on your own merits? They come out with the most inane rubbish and have no real grasp on the real world. And, what is worse, you are stuck with having to manage them because they have ended up on your team!

What do you do?

Controlled Reaction

Is it even possible to Move, Attune, Give, Inspire and Connect in this situation?
Well, I think it is. It is not easy, but it is possible.

In life, in general, the only thing we can really control is our response to a situation. We can’t change what is going on in someone else’s head, and we rarely have much influence over most events in the world. But we can change our reactions.

Take Tara at the wedding table. My initial reaction is that I feel resentment and want to write her off. Not a great start if I am there to entertain!Neither is it a great start for you if you are there to manage a team member.

How to do MAGIC

So, what can I do to manage my reactions in this instance?

Move: What emotion do I want Tara to feel during and after my performance? I need to resist my desire for her to feel humiliation; I actually want her to feel wonder and a sense of experiencing something special with the rest of the table.

Attune: How can I understand Tara more? She clearly comes from a different world to me, but how would I be behaving if I had the same start in life and the same life experience? I have to acknowledge that she is not actively trying to be obnoxious and intimidating as she flicks her perfectly styled hair…

Give: What do I want to give Tara? I have to remember that I am there to serve,  as is a team leader. How can I be generous to her?

Inspire: How do I want her to behave or think due to my performance? Well, I would like her to experience being part of an audience with the other guests, and as a result, not feel like she is so very different from them after all. 

Connect: My initial reaction is that Tara is from a different planet to me. But is that really true? Within a couple of icebreaking questions, I can probably discover some points of connection, places we have both visited, or activities we have both tried.

As a magician, I have to go through this process very quickly, in a matter of minutes. As a team leader, you will have a bit longer. But the principle is the same. Your real challenge is to start with yourself, to take control of your own reactions and allow yourself to view yourself as the servant of your irritating team member.

Do you have a Taramasalata on your team? 

Identify the emotions they stir up in you and reflect on how you could modify your internal reactions.

Help Please!

I am writing a book about using The MAGIC Formula to manage yourself, particularly if you work from home.

If you are a freelancer, self-employed, or work from home in another capacity, I would love to talk to you.

If you are able to help, please get in touch:

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