Healthcare News
Articles, Jobs and Consultants for the Healthcare Professional
Home      View Jobs     Post Jobs     Library     Advertise     Plan Financials     About     Subscribe     Contact    
Healthcare News
Dana Beal, International Speaker, Author and Coach

Profound Leadership: Lessons from Rodney Edward Gannon

By Danna Beal, M.Ed.
International Speaker
Author and Coach

See all this Month's Articles

Original Publish Date: August 8, 2023

I have worked both as an employee and a consultant in various sized corporations and I have been a speaker and workshop leader for thousands of people. Although I have interacted with many kinds of leaders, one deeply rooted and profoundly authentic leader was my boss in my early 30s—Rodney Edward Gannon, or Mr. Gannon as we referred to him then. I would like to share this excerpt from my book, The Illuminated Workplace.

Mr. Gannon was a redheaded Irish Catholic with 13 children—a baker’s dozen, he used to say. He was the administrator for a radiology practice, and he demonstrated his wisdom equally with the doctors and staff. He possessed profound and deep qualities of what I later described as Rodney Edward Gannon. Mr. Gannon, to those who worked for him, was an amazing man.

I was thirty-five years old when I went to work for a large radiology practice in my city. They had four offices and a radiology practice in the hospital. The practice also provided professional services to several outlying regions. I was hired as their marketing director.

There were seven doctors for whom I worked, but I reported most directly to Mr. Gannon, the business manager. I didn’t know at the beginning of my new job that he would forever change my life. I didn’t know he would continue to be a source of inspiration and an example of what is so needed in the workplace today.

Mr. Gannon was a red-haired Catholic Irishman with thirteen children. He was not a big man, maybe 5-9, with a bad back. He often stood up during meetings and leaned against the wall while talking or listening.

He was the most direct man in all of his conversations, and yet, he never seemed to intimidate or offend anyone. He was a straight shooter-take it or leave it. I often watched other men size him up, and they sometimes looked like they were ready to take him on. But, Mr. Gannon’s genuine hold-back-nothing approach always disarmed them.

When in any kind of negotiation, he would speak frankly and put everything on the table. He would lean back in his chair and never seemed in a hurry or anxious. He had no strategy except to find a solution or an agreement that would become a winning situation for both parties. He always seemed to ask the right question.

Coming from a sales and marketing background, I thought you always had to have a strategy. I noticed how others always kept an ace in the hole so they could triumph in the interaction. Not Mr. Gannon. And, if the other party started to get even slightly heated, he would lean back in his chair and chuckle in an understanding way, which would help them lower their defenses and come to a resolution.

One of the greatest things that Mr. Gannon did for me was to give me his full confidence. He told me to go out and do grand things. He told me I was remarkable and capable, and he wanted me to excel. He said no matter what happened, he would always support me, even if I made a mistake.

“But, if you make the same mistake twice,” he said, “we’d probably have to talk about that.” Still, I would learn from it.

Can you imagine how well I worked under him?

He was truly the wind beneath my wings. I excelled and achieved more than I ever thought possible. It was a wonderful time in which I grew in my own authentic power and inner confidence under his special guidance. I had no fear, and he continued to fan my spark of creativity. He expressed appreciation, and always seemed delighted when I achieved new goals. If leaders and managers would convey this attitude and respect for those they lead, they would be amazed at the power and potential in others just waiting to be ignited.

Mr. Gannon was like a warm-hearted wise uncle to me, besides being a great business manager. He would often come and get me so we could take a walk outside and talk about the business. He would share strategies and ideas for the future and ask my opinion. I felt valued and included in the direction of the company, which gave me a real sense of contributing in a meaningful way.

One day, as we were waiting for a board meeting to get started, I naively mentioned a bill for a recent X-ray I had done in one of our offices. I received the bill from our own company, and the bill had a mistake on it.

“Let me see that,” Mr. Gannon said.

He looked perplexed, and the doctors laughed because the bill had such a blatant error on it, especially since I was an employee. Still, I thought nothing more about it.

What I didn’t know at the time was that this same error had gone out to over 10,000 patients. It happened because we were in a computer conversion, and it turned out to be a big problem that took a lot of sorting out. Much time was wasted on it.

Mr. Gannon called me into his office right after the meeting and asked me why I would do such a thing. I had brought up a mistake for which he was responsible to the doctors, and the error made him look stupid. He hadn’t even known about it until I passed the bill around at the meeting.

“Why didn’t you just come to me?” he asked. “I would never have done something like that to you in front of the doctors.”

I was immediately devastated. I had been so ignorant and flippant about this “funny little error,” not even thinking about how it affected him. I had been thoughtless, and it was at his expense-at the expense of the man I thought walked on water.

I apologized profusely, begging for forgiveness. He just looked steadily at me and then quietly asked me to leave his office.

For the first time in my career, I felt like breaking down and crying. I went to my office and closed the door. I tried to work, but I felt numb.

I kept reliving it over and over, wondering what I could do to fix things. I thought of sending flowers, writing him a long letter, going back down to his office, and saying I was sorry again.

Suddenly, I had a huge shift in my own thinking. I became acutely aware that I was not thinking so much about him at all-I was consumed with worry about myself. I felt like I had fallen from grace, and I wanted to do something to elevate myself in his eyes once again. I wanted his benevolent light to shine on me again. I wasn’t thinking about him at all. I was concerned about my own image.

This was a startling thought. To put it in the language of this books and talks, I was looking behind the face of my ego. I didn’t like what I saw. (We rarely do like to see our ego’s schemes for saving face.)

I grew up that day. I learned I didn’t have to be the self-created image I liked to believe was me. And I also realized I needed to be authentic and responsible for my actions. I also understood intuitively that I needed to let him be.

I quietly worked in my office, feeling the pain but knowing I would grow through this, too. Then I heard a knock at my door. It was Mr. Gannon.

“Danna, let’s take a walk.”

He had a serious look on his face, but I was ready to face this conversation. I was remorseful, but also fully accountable for my lack of professionalism.

For once in my life, I completely shut up. I just let him talk. What he said endeared me to him more than words can describe. “Danna, please forgive me.”

He was asking me to forgive him! He said his reaction was just coming from his pride and his desire to always have a perfect business office and a smooth-running organization. He realized my intention was not to embarrass him, and he was sorry he had gotten upset with me.

Now, I could hardly hold back the tears. This great man was asking me to forgive him for what I had caused.

Mr. Gannon’s words demonstrated to me for the first time how a truly enlightened leader does not operate from false pride or a need to be superior. This wise man could say he was wrong even though what I had done was good cause for his reaction.

I have never forgotten the lesson from that fateful day. It was an experience that shifted me deeply inside. It was like I had been digging with a shovel to move some land, and then a fault in the earth just moved the land effortlessly in one fell swoop. The shift in my consciousness and understanding was immense.

Mr. Gannon died a number of years later. His thirteen children and wife had the benefit of his loving guidance as a wonderful husband and father. I had his presence for three incredible years. He will remain forever in my heart as someone who not only encouraged me in my growth but unknowingly inspired in me the passion to write this book and to speak to thousands of people on how to wake up to the enlightened presence in all of us.

Enlightened Leadership

At every level of leadership, it always depends on the relationships you have with those you lead. Your personal connection and ability to lead as an enlightened and authentic leader will impact not only the direct reports but everyone they interact with. The culture is dependent on enlightened leaders.

"In the end, a strong culture is about relationships and building close ties with your employees through effective leadership, empowerment, and communication. Employees need to have a clear vision of what they’re working towards and know that their efforts to achieve those goals are valued and appreciated." --Nhat H. Ngo, Chief Commercial Officer at Medical Solutions

Danna Beal, M.Ed., lives in the Seattle, WA area where she is an international speaker, author, retreat/workshop leader, and executive coach. Her new book, The Illuminated Workplace: Shining Light on Workplace Culture is now available on Amazon. She has spoken to thousands of businesses and conferences and has been on countless radio shows, podcasts, and webinars discussing “Enlightened Leadership” and “Workplace Culture. ”Her audiences and clients have included: Seattle Science Foundation--Spine Surgeons Grand Rounds, Swedish Hospital and Medical Groups, Kaiser Permanente Grand Rounds, Oakland, CA, AHRA, Orlando, FL, Federal Aviation Administration, Overlake Hospital Perioperative Conference, Radia, numerous physician practices and hospitals. Her website is