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7 Questions on Leadership with A. William Brannigan

Name: A. William Brannigan

Title: VP

Organisation: Labcorp

A. William (Bill) Brannigan

VP Laboratory Corporation of America

Family man with my wife of 30+ years 2 daughters and 3 grandchildren that are the light of our lives.

While I have worked in several departments including tear-down and stand-up and have been able to save and earn millions for one of the best companies in the world my greatest accomplishment is and always will be the family my wife and I created together. One of my biggest thrills was watching my daughter ascend to captain of her college equestrian team and biking across Ireland with my other daughter to raise money for the Alzheimer's Assn.

In my spare time I love to work on my 2 small businesses.

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope William's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

By far, it’s adjusting to the changing needs and expectations of our current and potential team members. Their lifestyles are in a constant state of flux, reflecting a quickly-evolving world. Recognition of this progression is not enough—you need to progress with it.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

I always gravitated towards leadership, even if it was trying to improve the circuit for my paper route or being the best dishwasher TGI Fridays had ever seen. So when I had the chance, I became the night specimen processing manager—then days, then branch, then general, etc. I am proud of every role to this day.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

I always start by reviewing the prior evening’s work product to identify any potential critical issues.

First things first: I get a hot cup of tea. Then, I read and respond to every email—even if it is just sending a quick “OK.”

By mid-morning, and between Webex meetings, I review yesterday’s analytics and dashboards. This window of time is a great opportunity to share what I call positive criticisms of workgroups and individuals, so they can hear about all the ways they are “doing it right.”

Lunch for me is always an unplugged respite for 30 minutes, to then start the afternoon like a fresh day.

Early afternoons are usually meetings; I feel my mind is the sharpest from late morning to early afternoon, so I try to structure my most impactful meetings then.

By late afternoon I am finishing those meetings (maybe some with the West Coast) and going back through my morning routine to identify anything urgent or too important to wait until the next day.

Family time and decompressing go hand in hand, usually by way of discussing the “real world” with my wife over a meal.

Finally, about an hour before bed I have maybe 30 minutes of work-related screen time to ensure there are no issues with second and third shift while finalizing the schedule for the next day.

Lastly, I usually meditate and go to bed.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

Not too long ago, I was reminded of the significant and sometimes dramatic impact business decisions can have on individuals. Something as simple as a one-hour schedule change could negatively impact a single mother’s childcare arrangements, or a $1 an hour increase might mean the difference in affording a movie date with a spouse, and so on.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

Probably How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. This timeless classic taught me the value of language (i.e. “it’s okay to criticize the act but never the person”) and the importance of active listening (i.e. “be genuinely interested in other people”) very early in my career. It is a must-read for any serious manager.

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

Own the problem. Ultimately, your job is not to delegate or even manage—it is to solve problems. Once you engage, see it all the way through to the end even if you are just monitoring things.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

Well, I have had decent success at process improvement and achieving goals consistent with company objectives. That said, the most meaningful experiences are those I have had as a mentor. As a leader I believe employee development is overlooked and underappreciated .

For example, a particularly ambitious employee who did not work directly for me used to occasionally stop by my office and chat about all things laboratory business. She was developing a reputation as a talented—but difficult—colleague. Eventually, over the course of several months, I had the opportunity to work with her on several significant projects during which her true excellence became clear. The C-suite crowd loved her.

So when a promotion opportunity came up, I went unsolicited to our boss and told him that not only was she excellent and the rumors unfounded: it would be in our best interest to offer her the position. My boss is not a huge fan of unsolicited advice and did not respond.

A confidant would later tell me that she cried when she accepted her VP role. I never told anyone about my conversation with our boss.

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