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A Collaborative Effort

By Liz Richards, MHEDA Executive Vice President

On July 30 I found out I am “Jimmy.” No, I haven’t changed my name or my gender but I did learn about my collaborative behavioral style which basically equates to Jimmy Buffet. I’m okay with that!

MHEDA’s Emerging Leaders Conference took place on July 30th and while I don’t normally participate in the session activities, Susan Freibrun, MHEDA’s education manager encouraged those of us attending from the MHEDA office to take the assessment survey and subsequently join in the workshop. I must say, after 20 years of hiring speakers, planning programs and participating in various educational forums, this one ranked up there as one of the best.

We were fortunate to come across this organization, www.bandingpeopletogether.com to introduce our members to their approach and it was an incredible use of time. The concept of Banding People Together is that everyone has a “primary” style…Jimmy (as in Buffet), Frank (as in Sinatra), Bruce (as in Springsteen) and GaGa (as in Lady). Many of us, myself included, were within five percentage points of a different primary style so when necessary, we can take on the traits of another style. I can assume “Frank” traits when needed. What was so valuable about this exercise was learning about each persona, how they prefer to be approached and how you can expect to be approached by them. It was an eye opener and a real transformational experience.

At the end of the session, the conference leader told us two personal stories tied to songs. (Their organization is led by songwriters/musicians hence the “banding” part of their slogan.) His first song “story” was lighthearted as he described his first kiss in Junior high. His second story was about his son who was battling cancer. As he told this heart-wrenching story to the audience of 100 people, you couldn’t help but notice the number of people who were teared up and crying. This was his lead-in to a vulnerability exercise. We were all seated at round tables and after the session leader’s stories, he asked us each to share a personal story associated with a song. He encouraged us to share something that would demonstrate our vulnerability, but it wasn’t required. Everyone at our table went all-in and more tears flowed. You can’t imagine being in a room with material handling suppliers and dealers and seeing this kind of emotion. It was surreal and it was wonderful. I know it made a real impact on everyone, myself included.

I don’t usually utilize this column to tout the great education programs MHEDA offers, but I couldn’t resist telling you about this experience. The emerging leaders in the room were awed by it too which is, of course, the most important part of a MHEDA conference! So which collaborative style do you most resemble? And what are the styles of your colleagues? I would venture to say, an even mix is best for a good healthy organization and the five of us there from MHEDA were all different styles. So while the rest of the MHEDA team is working on the details of association planning, I guess I’ll just be wandering off to Margaritaville… The following terms and descriptions are copyrights of “Banding People Together.”

Jimmy – “Named after the iconic good time guy Jimmy Buffet, Jimmy’s are friendly, social, and want to be liked. They seek the attention and approval of others and enjoy being in the limelight. When they get excited about an idea, their enthusiasm can be contagious. Jimmy’s aren’t afraid to ‘wing it.’”

Frank – “Named after the legendary crooner Frank Sinatra, Franks are generally very competitive, hard-charging risk-takers. Frank Sinatra made it known that he liked things done “his way” as evidenced by his classic hit “My Way”, so it’s no surprise that Franks are more prone to ask for forgiveness than permission. Franks are very direct and to the point when dealing with people.”

Bruce – “Named after rock and roll Hall of Famer Bruce Springsteen, Bruce likes to get things how they like them and keep them that way as evidenced by his playing with the same band for 40 plus years. He is also known for his empathy and caring for the common man as heard in many of his songs. Bruce’s are detailed planners who are very relationship oriented. Bruce’s are most comfortable behind the scenes in support roles. They are often the caregivers on the team, checking in to ensure everyone is ok.”

Gaga – “Named after pop icon Lady Gaga, Lady Gaga is a self-professed “student of fame” and plans things out carefully. Showing up to an awards show wearing a meat suit is not some spur of the moment idea. Her shows are choreographed with costume changes and performance cues. Very rarely will she go out on stage and “wing it” like a Jimmy. Gaga’s are proactive, detailed, and focused on the data-driven measurable things. They are perfectionists who are very analytical and meticulous and spend a lot of time practicing and perfecting. They also like to dot every I and cross every T.”

Liz Richards Bio