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‘Hocus Pocus’ Sanderson Sisters and Team Dynamics

Editor’s note: This blog post contains spoilers for the movie “Hocus Pocus.” 

With Hallows’ Eve upon us, it can feel like 2020 has been one long Halloween season. But that shouldn’t stop people from enjoying Halloween traditions, which can actually make the monotony of the pandemic feel less monotonous. One such tradition (especially for 90s babies/Generation Y’ers) is watching the 1993 Walt Disney cult classic “Hocus Pocus.”

The film’s premise of the Sanderson sisters  Winifred, Mary and Sarah  and their mission to achieve mortality and vitality can also teach us the important roles within team dynamics.

To help analyze how the Sanderson sisters work toward their goal of immortality, the well-respected Belbin Team Inventory will be applied. The theory categorizes team members into nine categories with one team member potentially assuming multiple roles at the same time. These include: Plant, Resource Investigator, Coordinator, Shaper, Monitor Evaluator, Teamworker, Implementer, Completer Finisher and Specialist.

Winifred

Played by Bette Midler, Winifred Sanderson acts as the team leader of the group or Coordinator. Coordinators are known for making decisions, keeping the team focused, and delegating tasks. This is clearly shown in the film as Winifred, the eldest Sanderson sister, develops the master plan to remain immortal. All the while she delegates tasks to her sisters to carry out. At one point she even resurrects her former lover, “Billy the Butcher.” She tasks him with pursuing Max, Dani, and Allison who stole her spellbook thus preventing her from carrying out the spell to drain the youth out of all of the children in Salem.

Winifred also plays the role of the Completer Finisher. She stops at nothing to achieve her goal of achieving immortality. Completer Finishers are known for going the extra mile to accomplish their goals with great accuracy. Winifred shows this in the film by working tirelessly to retrieve her spellbook so she can precisely concoct the immortality potion.

This also includes tracking down Max, Dani and Allison after being incinerated, breaking and entering into Max and Dani’s home, and scooping up what little of the immortality potion is left even after the kids empty the cauldron. However, in the end, she becomes completely finished, if you know what I mean.

Mary

Next up we have Mary Sanderson played by Kathy Najimy. This sister best exhibits the characteristics of a Shaper. This team member typically pursues objectives with vigor and makes sure the team doesn’t lose focus or momentum. Throughout the film, Mary is the first to volunteer for tasks delegated by Winifred to help her sisters achieve their objective (and also wants to come off as the favorite). She comforts Winifred when all hope seems lost when they can’t find the spellbook and refocuses their energy by encouraging them to create a “calming circle.”

Mary also takes on the role of a Specialist. With her wicked sense of smell, she easily tracks the children as they attempt to escape from the witches’ grasp throughout the film. Specialists bring a high level of concentration, ability, and skill in their discipline to the team. Mary’s sense of smell is so specific that she narrows a scent down to age and gender.

Sarah

This witch brings us to the last Sanderson sister, played ironically by another Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker). Sarah displays characteristics of a Teamworker. This particular team member generally acts as the oil between the cogs. Sarah acts as the catalyst for achieving the witches’ mission by luring the children of Salem to the Sanderson home by singing a siren-like song.

Her other charm of bewitching men or networking throughout the film also classifies her as a “Resource Investigator.” This team role emphasizes creating external contacts outside the team and generating possibilities. Sarah clearly achieves this by befriending the bus driver who gives the sisters a ride, seducing “Satan,” and kissing a mummy at the parent’s adult Halloween party. Although she often appeared to be around just for the boos.

Despite the Sanderson sisters’ best efforts to achieve their mission they ended up turning into sand witches (or actually glitter but close enough). Share your thoughts on team dynamics below or if you think if “it’s all a bunch of hocus pocus.” Stay healthy and safe this Halloween season!

Ryan Rosado first started contributing to GovLoop in 2015. With nearly 10 years in the federal government, Ryan currently works at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the Office of Public Affairs with previous roles at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Postal Service. He received his B.S. in Marketing from George Mason University and M.A. in Strategic Communications from Johns Hopkins University. Ryan currently resides in Northwest Washington, D.C., and enjoys running, writing and being a plant daddy.

Photo by Marko Blažević on Unsplash

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