Abbott Laboratories and LCL: Transforming A Company’s Management Culture, One Session at a Time
Updated: Feb 18, 2020
Mrs. Le Thi Mai Lan, Associate Director - Trade Training Commercial Excellence, Abbott Laboratories S.A.
When Mrs. Le Thi Mai Lan was approached by LCL Founder Warren Eng to participate in Leaders Create Leaders' Leadership Coaching Program, she was initially hesitant because of the time commitment. Fast-forward a year later, and she was sitting in a room full of leadership professionals, HR managers, and entrepreneurs, doing timed ball-tossing activities, writing personal reflections, and participating full-on in our Leadership Coaching Program. Since then, a group of line managers at Abbott Laboratories have also participated and the effects of LCL’s partnership with Abbott Laboratories can be felt.
We caught up with Mrs. Mai Lan at her office in the Ho Chi Minh City branch of Abbott Laboratories in Me Linh Point Tower in District 1. When asked why she decided to join LCL’s Leadership Coaching Program, she said it was based on her long-standing professional relationship with Coach Warren and also genuine curiosity (“maybe I had some kind of assumption about coaching and some things I did not know that I could update”).
But, beyond curiosity, Mrs. Mai Lan recognized that her company’s model for developing the potential in employees might be limited. She said that oftentimes companies suffer from a “lack of balance” in their business models such that “when a leader is in front of the team and focused too much on business… The consequence is that people don’t always feel like they are individuals. They begin to feel like they are robots.”
As such, she was determined to bring in key managers into the program after first experiencing it herself. The starting point for her, given her role within her company was simple: “How can I show them that I care about their development?” She laughed.
Coaching seemed to her to be the only way!
Mrs. Mai Lan became convinced that a company’s management style should not only tap into the leadership potential of employees through coaching, but that it should do so in a genuine way. People want to know if you really care… [mild chuckle] and they will really know!”
She realized that at Abbott Laboratories there is already a commitment to a coaching model that asks management employees key questions that help them assess problems and identify solution frameworks. However, she tells us that she found a gap in the application of management coaching — between the message of the company and the actions — stating further that “there is an assumption that coaching is natural, but… How?!”
She found the answer during the 3-day intensive training, one that asks quite a bit from participants. For one, she realized how easy it is to become comfortable in your own thought patterns. “I knew I would benefit from updating some information about coaching but when I learned about the ACC model, [Coach] Warren helped me overcome my obstacle first.” She added that true leadership is about engaging others by example and that we ought to “transform from the inside out.”
She shared a series of lessons she had learned not only about her own management style, but about finding unique opportunities and moments to coach employees. “The answer was right in my face!” The question that she credits with guiding her own personal transformation and how she relates to her role at Abbott was crystal clear: “Am I spending enough time developing my managers?”
After participating in the program in November (Cohort 15), the same ringing question would continue. She was asking her direct reports, all of whom managed people as well: Are you spending enough time with your people?”
She encouraged several managers — four participants, to date — to invest in themselves and reward themselves. And then she never looked back.
She tells us how using the ACC framework became a natural part of conversations and even supervision meetings. However, the impact of Leadership Coaching in her thinking was not based on an abstract concept or model, but on her initial observation: “Coaching is a way to show employees that you care about them.”
She told us about how coaching assisted her during her 2019 Year-End Reviews — meetings that can be nerve-racking for some: “I guarantee you that everyone is very comfortable after my sessions and they are open enough to talk about their efforts and their dreams.”
With Mrs. Mai Lan at the helm, Leadership Coaching at Abbott Laboratories has proved to accomplish a goal that can be difficult for many companies to attain: Tapping into untouched human potential.
One of the practices we found most noteworthy is the fact that line managers are having coaching sessions with their direct reports, recording them, and then a select team of training managers offer feedback on their process of coaching. They have clearly learned that Leadership Coaching is more of an art than it is a science.
For 2020, Abbott Laboratories has plans to incorporate Leadership Coaching across various departments and ranks, specially for their commercial team because, as Mrs. Mai Lan put it, “we see that coaching creates new capabilities in their abilities” whereby it becomes “less about KPIs and more about individual passion and constant progress. “We design the process but it needs to add value to their mindset,” she said proudly. She added, “for different levels of performance, we have different levels of coaching.”
LCL is proud to have a partnership with Abbott Laboratories and are looking forward to a year full of new discoveries. If you are interested in learning more about Corporate Sponsorship or group packages at your company for our flagship Leadership Coaching Program, please contact Mrs. Thuy at firstname.lastname@example.org or (+84) 909 11 29 18 (Vietnamese) - (+84) 912 33 73 30 (English).