Leading A Shared Endeavor
describes the intense feelings many employees have about Varnum. When she found out that he was retiring, she admits, "I had tears for a week. I felt like I was walking around with this big lump in my throat." Even a year later, Reeves's eyes well up as she mentions his retirement—and she was not the only employee to shed tears while talking about Varnum. "Jim and I are not close personal friends," she explains. "I think we're good colleagues, and we respect each other, but we're not close the way I'm close with other people here."
Nevertheless, she continues, "you just sort of worry. When you've worked for a successful organization, and one that speaks to the things that you believe in all the time, you sort of worry. What's going to become of us?" Then, Reeves says, she had a realization. "I finally got it together and said, 'I don't need to worry about this as much as I am. . . . DHMC is not about a single person.'" It's about 7,000 employees, all working together.
"Wise managers since probably 1500 B.C. have known that you don't just hand down orders," points out Hennessey. Varnum has worked so hard to create
strong relationships with employees and with his fellow leaders, says Hennessey, "because that's what organizations are there to do—to create a partnership of human beings who are endeavoring to do something."