September 12, 2023

Where The Magic Happens

Written by: Joe Ferreira

As shared on Forbes Business.

Have you ever experienced magic? The kind of magic I’m talking about isn’t rooted in the supernatural. In fact, everyone has experienced it at some point. It’s a wizardry that’s easily conjured when everyday things are in harmonious flow. With this practical sorcery on your side, collaboration and productivity skyrocket, but without it, the situation can feel a bit cursed. Today, I’m going to discuss how to clear the way for everyday magic in your organization.

Accept weaknesses, but harness strengths. Everyone can’t be good at everything. I’ve found that sometimes the most talented and intelligent people have surprising weak spots. Myself, for example: I always struggled in school. Even if I studied extensively, I still couldn’t make stellar grades. I tried my best to memorize the material, but I never could retain information like I thought I should be able to. In college, one of my classes taught us concepts rather than facts, and immediately everything clicked.

After fighting for years to memorize facts, I’d finally found what worked for me. I could suddenly understand, recall, and apply what I’d learned–in short, I’d found the magic. Now whenever I need to absorb new information, I put it into context. Concepts and narrative examples are far easier for me to understand than cut and dry facts. Now imagine if I hadn’t accepted my shortcomings. I might still be trying and failing to memorize facts for hours on end. Heck, I might not have made it out of college at all!

Forbes Magic Image

The same concept can be applied to those you lead. Whenever a clear strength or weakness is present within you or someone on your team, don’t fight it. Take the opportunity to explore the possibilities. Sometimes the best solutions are discovered through obstacles.

Teach others to learn for themselves. In the same way that one person can’t be good at everything, it’s also impossible for one person to do everything; therefore, leaders must master the art of delegation. Personally, I have had to learn this lesson over and over. Countless times I’ve been guilty of jumping in to do things my way (the “right” way) instead of taking time to teach another person. In the short term, my completion of the task gets it done the way I think it should be done. But the next time said task arises, my attention will be needed yet again. A situation like this quickly becomes a vicious and overwhelming cycle of leaders staying busy and getting almost nothing meaningful done.

One of the best things you can do for your team is to say, “You are competent to learn this task. This is the way that I learned it, and now I’m empowering you to find the best way to master it for yourself.” This kind of leadership technique makes delegating far easier. It also shows others that you’re confident in their abilities while still allowing breathing room for them to find their unique “right” way of doing things. Lastly, it creates a safe and supportive culture that fosters autonomy, curiosity, and ownership over individual responsibilities.

Take inclusion seriously. If you think you can do it best if you do it alone, you’re probably wrong. This is one of the most important lessons I’ve learned over the course of my career. A great team can do more as a collective than a singular leader ever could single-handedly, making them an invaluable resource. In addition, teams are made up of different perspectives, experiences, and areas of expertise that might not otherwise be available to a leader. Whenever I’ve attempted to make a decision as a lone wolf, it becomes clear afterward that I would’ve benefited from including others. More data and insights aid more informed decisions. And yet, many times I’ve pressed on with only my personal experience and knowledge. Inclusion might seem daunting at first, but I like to see it as a brain trust that I can tap into for decisions big and small.

Nurture magic. These three techniques have helped to foster magic within my organization. Looking back, there’s no doubt in my mind that we are better each time we choose inclusion and empowerment over alienation and subjugation.