Good leaders are hard to find. And finding exactly the right person takes far more insight, instinct and raw hard work than most people realize. Take, for example, the current search for a new leader of the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) – and the major role entrusted to our long-standing partner, colleague and client: Robert E. Reilly, Jr. and his firm Reilly Partners, the small, elite and nationally recognized executive search firm based here in Chicago.

Google Reilly Partners and you’ll see what I mean.  This firm has a reputation for running quiet and deep – extensive reach tempered by exceptional discretion.  It takes decades to earn that kind of status in the white-gloved, crown-filling world of executive search.

The Candidate Pool Has Narrowed

Let me give you some more context here.  While we were watching the NBA All-Star Game last weekend, behind the scenes, the Players Association was holding a two-hour meeting to introduce the leading candidates for the Executive Director position to the organization’s leadership and 30 player representatives.  After the previous Executive Director was ousted due to allegations of nepotism and poor management, Reilly Partners was retained to find the new Executive Director of the NBPA last fall.  And, as we have in the past on strategic engagements of this nature, Hillard Heintze has been providing direct support to Bob Reilly’s team.

A Strategic Partnership

There has been an almost constant media frenzy surrounding the NBPA and Reilly Partners since that time, but despite the scheduling conflicts and media scrutiny, Reilly Partners has managed to help the NBPA narrow down the candidates to two. Hillard Heintze was asked to come on board after six finalists had been chosen.  We performed preliminary due diligence on all six finalists, and later completed full investigations on the top two.

Intuition is Critical – and Facts Help Seal the Deal

Bob Reilly has spent nearly 20 years fine-tuning his ability to read people and determine who will or will not be a good fit for a role.  In many cases, especially in high-profile searches, a comprehensive and strategic background investigation is a vital part of the process.  In short, they (1) help supplement the preliminary research conducted by recruiters, (2) establish a higher threshold of legitimacy to both the candidate and the recruiters recommending them, and (3) enhance the client’s confidence and assurance in the integrity and suitability of the final candidates.

Balancing the Need to Be Comprehensive While Being Respectful to the Subject

When we conduct executive-level due diligence on a candidate – or do an investigation on any individual – we stand behind our findings as:

  • Objectively determined;
  • Accurately reported;
  • Legally acquired;
  • Compliant with all relevant regulations; and
  • Comprehensive in scope.

But perhaps most importantly, we ensure the information we provide our client is collected with discretion, investigative diligence and professional respect – for our client as well as for the subject and his or her privacy, interests and relationships.

A Long, But Thoughtful Process

The NBPA has reviewed over 200 candidates provided by Reilly Partners for the Executive Director position.  The Players Association is being diligent, thoughtful, transparent and inclusive – and we respect that.  They are showing the players’ representative that they are intent on changing the direction of the union to build a new future.

Building on this Partnership

I have known Bob Reilly and his talented team for many years now, and because of their extensive experience in identifying executive leaders for corporations, I think they have a unique viewpoint to contribute.  I’m going to take this moment, actually, and invite Bob to serve as the Front Line’s first guest blogger. Bob, what do you think? Let’s see if he accepts.