Landscapes, Landmarks, and Leadership

A report from the Western Planner on a session attended by Julio Iturreria, Board member and Representative from Colorado

The Western Planner Conference was a joint conference with Montana Association of Planners in Great Falls, Montana. Like all Western Planner conferences the theme varies. This year the theme was “Landscapes, Landmarks, and Leadership.”

My interested was piqued by a session called, “The Quirky Planner: We All Approach the World Differently.” Throughout the world of government, there is a movement to address Leadership and what it means to all of us. This topic is not new, but there is increased interest in our professional world. So this session focuses on “People are interesting” and “Relationship building with people or through people and teamwork.”

This topic was conducted by Mark Wilmarth, Training and Development Coordinator, City of Great Falls. Mr. Wilmarth started the discussion with handing out five cards to every individual within the session. Each card was a different color from blue, yellow, green and red, and had different wording that identified qualifiers for each color.

Blue strengths were the following: gathering facts, analyzing issues, problem-solving logically, arguing rationally considering financial aspects, measuring precisely and understanding technical elements.

Yellow strengths were reading the signs of coming change, seeing the ‘big picture’ recognizing new possibilities, tolerating ambiguity, integrating ideas and concepts, bending or challenging established policies, synthesizing unlike elements into a new whole, inventing innovation solutions to problems, problem-solving in intuitive ways.

Green strengths are as follows: finding overlooked flaws, approaching problems practically, stating firm on issues, maintaining a standard of consistency, stable leadership and supervision, reading fine print in documents/contracts, organizing and keeping track of essential data, developing detailed plans and procedures, articulating plans in an orderly way, keeping financial records straight.

The last color is red with following strengths: recognizing interpersonal difficulties, anticipating how others will feel, intuitively understanding how others feel, picking up the non-verbal cues of interpersonal stress, engendering enthusiasm, persuading, teaching, conciliating, understanding emotional elements, considering values.

The task was to choose the colored cards that most closely represented your character. Most of us ended with five cards that were a range of colors or exchange for new cards that represented your character. Then Mr. Wilmarth requested each of us to pick their favorite color from blue, green, yellow and red. We were then separated into for camps of our favorite color. This gave Mr. Wilmarth to the opportunity to discuss the results of our choices and addressed the Thinking Preferences of the group related colors. Blue is Analytical, yellow is Conceptual, green is Structural and red is Social. Once this explanation was provided to the entire group, we were able to understand what Mr. Wilmarth had accomplished, a basis to understand ourselves and how others behave. Everyone has some degree of each color with one color is predominant. However, each color is associated with certain personality traits and behaviors.

This session was a little off the beaten track, but turned out to be very stimulating and an easy way to recognize the differences we all have and maybe make us better planners.

Julio G. Iturreria, over the past three decades, has been involved with urban and rural planning in various positions as a planner, manager and Community Development Director. He currently is the Long Range Program Manager in Arapahoe County. This involves working on comprehensive plans and sub-area plans involving water, water quality, air quality, conservation, open space, regional trails, parks, multiple scaled developments, and regional issues that effect statewide water issues. He serves as a board member of Western Planning Resources.


About the Session –The Quirky Planner: We All Approach the World Differently

Session Summary: We all approach the world differently. The more we learn to understand and appreciate our differences the more effective we are in life. Success comes from finding ways to work effectively with all people. As a leader, how do you approach the individual and not the group?  Learn about ways to have the right conversations to lead people the way they want to be led.
Mark Willmarth, Training & Development Coordinator – City of Great Falls–Mark has over 20 years of experience speaking to and working with groups in and around Montana. He describes himself as a professional with a passion to help others discover their own potential. Everything he does focuses around the concept, “The more we understand and appreciate ourselves, the more success we will find in life.” Mark creates a comfortable space to allow others to explore and experience the content. Mark has a bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Management and master’s degree in College Student Personnel from Bowling Green State University in Ohio. Mark works part-time at the City of Great Falls as the Training and Development Coordinator. He also is co-owner of Vision West, Inc. in Great Falls with his wife Mary. His greatestprofessional  reward is helping others become better at being who they are. His greatest life project started in 2002 when he and his wife became parents to their son Taylor!
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