Ode to a Kingmaker

January 6, 2016 (Feast of the Epiphany)

Life tributes are normally made at funerals or retirement parties with the latter now completely faded from the landscape. Executives evidently now have plenty of watches to guard time when they ride off into the sunset.

This tribute will be made to a figure who announced a long anticipated retirement late last month, yet based on track record and values, will never be “done.” Not in this life or beyond should you share a similar belief system.

While this figure may be obvious to long-time readers of the TGR blog, it almost doesn’t matter who this person is from a material point of view. Despite the fact that the name has currency as one of the most influential business figures of the 20th and 21st century. Hint: It’s not Willard Scott although the famous “Today Show” weatherman announced that he was going out on the same day.

Ode to a Kingmaker: Long live the King!

Kingmakers by definition are those who make a king or ruler. Applying this definition in a real world sense, great leaders are made. The ones who do the making are generally Machiavellian by nature, meaning their work is done in the shadows, or outside the normal zones. Highly intangible yet valuable, in other words. For an old example from the movies, think Robert Duvall who played Tom Hagen, the consigliere role in “The Godfather.” Their difference is felt at the highest human decision-making and judgment levels, or where choices are made to fill consequential jobs. To achieve this status means you have to not only be willing to make kings but also take the long personal journey not unlike the one taken by the Three Kings, a mysterious but heavily influential group whose travels are marked today on the Christian liturgical calendar.

Making kings is not a practiced art anymore. The art has given way to science and data with less and less relationship-based, long-term thinking by the day. Kingmakers have disintegrated into board specialists or operatives in politics, and consultants or self appointed trusted advisors to CEOs. Emphasis on the individual has given way to team at all costs, and while this is understandable in large, complex corporate environments, standing out as an outsider from another industry no longer holds as much sway. Consummate insiders rule the day, one that has seen its share of economic stagnation over the past five years despite pockets of growth in some sectors. Expert keepers of the status quo now give way to unicorns in entirely new sectors since their paths rarely cross.

This tribute’s subject represents a kingmaker of sorts who was present at the creation of a craft called headhunting, which now is executive search, a discipline that few have mastered much less grasped. Through a combination of hard work — first modeled in an old General Store where his family lived during the Depression — Jesuit upbringing, sharp instincts, great education, hero worshipping and the gift of seduction, this person literally willed himself to do great recruiting work for big brand name companies and institutions. He did so by building relationships and reputation with leaders who held boldfaced names in the old print world. This person’s work at the Top would always be recognized because he made sure it was.

For anyone still left wondering, this figure’s name is Gerard R. Roche or “Gerry” by his friends and foes. To paraphrase the old Irish blessing, may the road rise to meet you wherever you may go from here. And may that same “straight ahead” road lead to more forks where you can touch eternity — while always saving energy to make one more phone call.

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Courtesy: LinkedIn Pulse
Should you want to learn more about this person and what he “feels strongly about,” watch the following clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWLUyGnEFQI. The highest compliment to be paid to presenter is that he or she made you laugh, think and/or cry. There’s a little of all three in this one.