The Acceleration of Urban Management Trends Has Direct Implications on Talent & Leadership

By David Ginsburg, Senior Advisor at Gilman Partners

The challenges of 2020 are enormous and impact all of us. The COVID 19 pandemic, racial justice protests following the senseless killing of George Floyd, and a toxic political environment in a presidential election year each has significant impact on our lives. Taken together, these impacts are related and greatly magnified. Our families, colleagues, clients and friends face much anxiety – health, moral, economic – and look for ways to understand and cope with the future.

I recently read a report by my friend Brad Segal of PUMA (Progressive Urban Management Associates) in Boulder, Colorado. Brad’s firm publishes an annual global trends report generally targeted for urban civic organizations and executives. Having been the CEO of Downtown Cincinnati Inc. (DCI) for 17 years prior to retiring in 2018, I follow these reports closely. I try to relate these trends to our work at Gilman Partners in terms of attracting and retaining top talent as well as how they relate to the retained executive search industry. Because of the disruptive nature of current events, PUMA just issued a mid-year update.

The trends included social justice, how we work, consumer behavior, climate change, transportation, and the importance of “place.” The growing importance of mobility systems, arts and culture, ecology and how we work and innovate, and social equity are all even more important now as we seek to conquer the pandemic and become a better country. Brad concludes that these trends bode well for our urban areas – especially second-tier “opportunity cities” (like Cincinnati) that provide affordable housing and lifestyle opportunities. They key concept is that rather than being new trends, the events of 2020 have dramatically “accelerated” their pace, importance and impact.

These accelerated trends have a profound impact on the importance of top talent and the value of best-in-the business, retained executive search services such as Gilman Partners. Accelerated trends require leaders who can adapt, build teams and execute. Diversity and inclusion need to be aggressively and effectively a part of every search but also of ongoing operations until they are part of the “DNA” of our organizations and communities. With so many people currently on the sidelines, and the value of top talent is at an all -time premium, the selection process is more important than ever, and the “cost” of a mistake in hiring and onboarding can be the difference between success and survival.