In Demand: Innovative and Adaptable Leaders to Drive Efficiency

Rising mandates for innovative leaders who can see around corners, quickly adapt to new environments and challenges, and bring efficiencies to their organizations are keeping executive recruiters busier than ever. Let’s take a closer look with the founder of Cooper Coleman.

June 24, 2021 – The Labor Department reported that 411,000 Americans filed new claims for state unemployment benefits. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones expected 380,000 new jobless claims. The previous week’s level was revised up by 6,000 from 412,000 to 418,000. The four-week moving average was 397,750, an increase of 1,500 from the previous week’s revised average. The previous week’s average was revised up by 1,250 from 395,000 to 396,250. Despite falling new jobless claims, almost 16 million Americans were still on some form of government assistance through all unemployment programs as of early June.

“While progress in claims filings may have stalled in recent weeks, the change has been subtle so resist the urge to read too much into it or characterize things as getting worse,” Greg McBride, Bankrate’s chief financial analyst, wrote in an email. “Continuing claims, after all, did move slightly lower, and are at the lowest since the onset in March 2020.”

“Economic reopening and a strengthening labor market should lead to renewed declines in unemployment filings, with the summer months promising to bring us closer to the normal we’ve all been craving,” Mr. McBride said.

During the week, 51 states reported 5,950,167 continued weekly claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits and 51 states reported 5,273,180 continued claims for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits. The highest insured unemployment rates in the week were in the Virgin Islands (19.5), Rhode Island (4.8), Nevada (4.5), California (3.9), Connecticut (3.9), Puerto Rico (3.9), Alaska (3.7), Illinois (3.6), New York (3.6), and District of Columbia (3.2). The largest increases in initial claims for the week were in Pennsylvania (+21,905), California (+15,131), Kentucky (+9,172), Florida (+3,344), and Texas (+3,127), while the largest decreases were in Michigan (-5,615), Delaware (-2,516), Washington (-1,998), Tennessee (-1,746), and Alabama (-1,706).

Talent Expert Weighs In

Johnny Cooper, founder and principal of Cooper Coleman, a full-service recruiting and consulting firm partnering exclusively with non-profit organizations, foundations, and research and academic institutions to drive meaningful growth, has spent his career as a non-profit leader focused on fundraising and organizational leadership.

Mr. Cooper recently sat down with Hunt Scanlon Media to discuss the pandemic, hiring, and how his firm has adjusted to working with clients and candidates during the post pandemic era. Following are excerpts from that discussion.

      Johnny Cooper

Johnny, many are optimistic about a return to normalcy by the end of the summer. What are your thoughts about the recovery?

Cooper Coleman is exclusively focused on serving non-profit organizations throughout the social sector. For most, the events over the past year and a half have heightened demand for their services and introduced new challenges for funding their missions. While these challenges have prompted organizations and leaders to re-examine their business models, they also present new opportunities for adapting service delivery and increasing efficiency and impact throughout their communities. More than ever, this has put a premium on having the right leadership in place. As a result, clients have turned to us for insight and guidance as they contemplate future changes and assess their leadership requirements and organizational structures. We expect that the remainder of the year will be a dynamic period, and search activity will continue to increase.

What expectations do you have for the search industry for the rest of the year ahead?

The current climate is resulting in one of the most active periods we have seen for non-profit search in recent years. We expect an increasing number of changes—structurally, financially, and with personnel—across organizations and a substantial increase in search requirements, particularly related to inclusion and diversity. We anticipate an increasingly strong demand for experienced leaders who can guide organizations through these and other emerging challenges, particularly the mandate for innovation and continued adaptability of the work environment as well as the need for board and staff leadership to reflect the diversity of communities they serve.

“We expect that the remainder of the year will be a dynamic period, and search activity will continue to increase.”

What are some of the challenges you’re seeing right now?

How much time do you have? Candidates are insecure about leaving the stability of their current jobs; organizations struggle to attract diverse candidates; fewer resources are available to hire the talent necessary to move forward; leaders are spread thin, struggling to prioritize hiring, which would ostensibly make things easier; virtual interviews are not a panacea to the incredibly essential need for in-person relationship building and evaluation of candidates; the list goes on. Cooper Coleman is a new firm, established in January. Anticipating this ever-changing environment, we intentionally developed a structure and designed our processes and systems to respond with agility to these ongoing challenges. We have incorporated new technologies to respond to our client’s needs efficiently and decisively. We’ve enhanced our communication capabilities to collaborate with clients more effectively, meet them where they are, and extend their capacity. We take intentional, daily steps toward understanding our responsibility in achieving a more inclusive, effective nonprofit sector. As a firm differentiated by its “hands-on” and “high touch” approach with our clients and candidates, we welcome the opportunity to return to in-person meetings and, as you put it, a “return to normalcy,” so long as it is safe and responsible.

What sectors are strongest right now? 

We are seeing a high degree of interest in our work from organizations in social services, community and public health, and the arts. Innovation, growth, organizational expansion, and diversity are common themes as they look to refine and improve their overall impact and competitiveness for funding. In addition to our recruitment services, clients call upon our advisory services and our expertise and experience working with nonprofits in operational, development, strategic, and leadership capacities. 

How has your firm adjusted to how it serves clients? 

We have developed a service offering that is especially well-suited for these times. We are elevating the client experience and prioritizing the dignity and quality of candidates who’ve chosen to focus their careers on service to their communities. Our clients have high expectations of us and their prospective leaders, and we respond in kind by continuing to learn with them, evolving every day.

Related: Skills Gap Points to Why We Need to Invest in People

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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