Monthly Archive: November 2015

Musings — Leadership Transition

Don W. Taylor, MBA, CohenTaylor Founding Partner
Our daily professional lives have often been interrupted as of late with announcements of leadership changes.  We are living in a world that includes lots of transition.

The past several years’ experience in helping facilitate transitions of leadership have given way to thought about these changes. Often times, it has brought more questions than answers.

All sectors of the work world have experienced the notion of a workforce that is “aging out.”  Traditionalists are long gone and now, with a greater sense of financial security and hope, Boomers are following suit.  Not unlike all sectors, it’s a generation that represents a significant number of executive leaders in the social sector.

We have not dutifully planned for their succession.  Most (but not all) nonprofits with limited resources have focused on service to client stakeholders as a priority.  Identification of a succession plan and the critical professional development of inside leaders around future competencies needed for the organization have gone untended.

The departure of this generation from the workplace—many who are long-time organizational leaders or founders—includes the exit of a critical amount of social and intellectual capital that leaves with them.  That will bring both challenge and opportunity to complex social problems that exist in our communities.

The challenge (and opportunity) might be to understand more fully how to work differently with this generation of leaders as they exit. They have clearly identified that full retirement is not where they want to be.  This generation wants to continue to make contributions—but in ways that don’t represent a typical work day world.  Are we thinking about creative ways to capture or retain that capital for the benefit of the sector?

The opportunity is for growth of a new generation of leaders and, potentially, their new and different approach to strategy.  Their own life experiences and how they have witnessed their parents in the working world have helped defined their own values and behavior. This new generation of leadership is already shaping how we work in the physical space of workplace.

A September 2015 article in Bridge Partners Insights ( introduces the concepts of “cognitive diversity” and “cognitive conflict” in problem solving around complex social issues.  Okay so, maybe just new buzzwords?—but I like them.

Cognitive diversity incorporates what is innate to our being, combined with the behaviors (or how you act) as result of what you have learned in your life experiences. We all bring both to the experience of and the creativity in problem solving and strategy development.  It does not assume that your competence is based on your generation, your ethnicity, or your sector experience (for profit, nonprofit, public). With cognitive diversity, is it likely that each of us brings bias to how we might approach leadership?

Cognitive conflict is a gift—the opportunity to use that diversity to form and create collaborative solutions in leadership.  It gives permission for others to challenge any bias we might bring, to consider a problem from different perspectives and to build strategy from collective input.

In our executive search experience, organizations are not always ready to introduce the kinds of leaders who bring cognitive diversity and conflict to organizational management and an organization’s culture.  Multinational corporations have begun to find their way successfully and many corporate leaders who sit in nonprofit board leadership are open to it and have a desire to bring it into the nonprofit sector.  In the end, boards may not be ready for the inherent risk it brings—especially around disruption of organizational culture.  How might we change that paradigm to be open and prepared?

What I’m most confident about—is that the sector’s approach to leadership will be evolutionary, likely to be disruptive and most certainly, transformational.


Search Completed! Executive Director – Conservation Corps Minnesota & Iowa

Update: This search was completed and the new Executive Director, Teresa Spaeth, was placed in March 2016. Click here to learn more about Teresa and CCMI!

On behalf of our client, Conservation Corps Minnesota & Iowa, CohenTaylor Executive Search Services is conducting a retained executive search for their EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR.

Can you be the architect and leader for the future of nature conservation and youth development? Join one of the nation’s leading conservation organizations and make a difference in the lives of young people. Corps members work hard all year to conserve natural resources and wildlife habitats, improve state parks and trails, and provide relief to communities ravaged by floods and other natural disasters. These projects give youth members leadership skills, greater confidence and job opportunities that can lead to leadership careers in conservation. The Corps offers life-changing experiences to nearly 600 youth and 2,000 volunteers each year.

Click here for the full position profile: Position Profile – Executive Director – Conservation Corps Minnesota & Iowa

Conservation Corps is a nonprofit organization that provides engaging work for young people in managing natural resources, responding to disasters, conserving energy and leading volunteers. Through youth programs (ages 15-18) and young adult AmeriCorps participants (ages 18-25), The Corps helps young people develop personal responsibility, a strong work ethic and greater awareness of environmental stewardship. Corps goals are to help young people from all backgrounds become more connected to the environment, engaged in conservation, involved in the community and prepared for future employment.

To apply, please send your resume to info@cohentaylor.comAll inquiries will remain confidential.


Searches Completed! Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment (RISE) – Washington, DC

Update: These searches were completed in Spring 2016. Click here to learn more about RISE!

On behalf of our client,Responsible Industry for a Sound EnvironmentCohenTaylor Executive Search Services is conducting a retained searches for three positions:

State Manager, Public Affairs

Communications Coordinator

Administrative Assistant

THE MISSIONProtect and advance the specialty pest management and plant health industries by:
Representing a strong industry voice
Advocating to shape public policy
Influencing positive public opinion

THE VISIONAn industry free to create inspiring and healthy places where we live, work and play.

As the national trade association representing manufacturers, formulators, distributors and other industry leaders involved with specialty pesticides, RISE gives the facts about pests and the threats they pose to our health and safety. RISE provides accurate information about pesticides, their use and regulation, sharing news releases, fact sheets, and other valuable resources highlighting the benefits of the products our members provide.  We promote the safe use of pesticides to control pests and invasive species that are detrimental to our health and our environment. As the only national trade association representing this industry, our members supply products essential to public health and safety, and to protecting our environment. RISE staff members communicate with policymakers and regulators to ensure products are used properly and are available when needed. These exciting positions will have an impact on safe chemical use, policy and advocacy on the local, state and national level.


Search Completed! Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation – VP of Research & Dissemination

Update: This search was completed and the new VP of Research & Dissemination, Michael Ujhelyi, placed in February 2016. Learn more about the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation!

On behalf of our client, Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation® CohenTaylor Executive Search Services is conducting a retained search for their VICE PRESIDENT of  RESEARCH and DISSEMINATION

Imagine an opportunity to be on the cutting edge of cardiovascular research – research that will drastically impact the state of disease prevention and treatment world-wide.  Join a leading and successful nonprofit organization in Minnesota that has a high business profile, is dedicated to innovation and growth through research and education, deploys strong partnerships to achieve its mission, and is committed to the dissemination of their valuable research on an international scale. Click here to view the full position profile: Position Profile – MHIF – VP of Research

THE ORGANIZATION: Founded in 1982, the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation (MHIF) is a Minnesota-based 501(c)3 that aims to create a world without heart and vascular disease. Efforts are focused on improving the cardiovascular health of individuals and communities through innovative research and education, and investigating new protocols and treatments designed to save lives – to radically change the trajectory of the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease.

THE ROLE: Located within the Abbott Northwestern Hospital campus in Minneapolis, Minnesota, MHIF seeks a Vice President of Research and Dissemination. In support of the MHIF mission, this position will be the principal representative for MHIF with regard to clinical and population health research, community-based health programs, professional education, research administration and human research protection. This leadership position will focus on collaboration with internal and external partners to develop and implement research and programs aligned with the MHIF vision and strategic plan. This position reports directly to the Chief Executive Officer.

To apply, please send your resume to info@cohentaylor.comAll inquiries will remain confidential.