Leader and manager effectiveness is the most frequent top priority (60% of respondents) among HR leaders for 2023, according to a survey by Gartner, Inc.

As we stand on the threshold of a post-pandemic world, the dynamics of leadership and management have evolved, demanding a new set of skills, perspectives, and approaches. For the August edition of The Leaders’ Cafe, our monthly series discussing the latest trends driving the workplace, we welcomed Priyanka Anand, Vice President & Head, Human Resources – South East Asia, Oceania & India at Ericsson. Priyanka shared insights on how organisations need to think differently about developing managers to boost manager effectiveness


In the discussion about developing new-age managers and leaders,  Priyanka emphasized the following key points

Leadership is Foundational: Leadership development is a core element of Ericsson’s success. Strong leaders are crucial for any organization to thrive, and they invest heavily in nurturing leadership alongside other aspects of the business.

Growth Mindset and Win-Win Narrative: Ericsson fosters a growth mindset among its leaders, encouraging them to view challenges as opportunities. They emphasize a “Win-Win” narrative to set clear expectations for employees and leaders alike, creating a sense of partnership.

Emphasis on Behaviors: Ericsson focuses on empowering its leaders with key behaviors like empathy, open communication, collaboration, and recognizing collective success. These behaviors are instrumental in shaping the organization’s culture.

Continuous Learning: Leadership development is viewed as an evolving process. Ericsson recognizes the need to adapt continuously to changing industry dynamics, geopolitical shifts, and global events. Leaders are encouraged to engage in continuous learning to stay updated and connected with their teams.

People-Centric Approach: Ericsson places trust in its employees and emphasizes creating “moments that matter.” Leaders are seen as coaches who engage in meaningful conversations, fostering a sense of belonging and psychological safety among employees.

Zero-Tolerance for Zero Learning: Ericsson has a zero-tolerance policy for zero learning, making continuous learning a non-negotiable part of the company culture. They empower employees to take charge of their learning journeys.

Hiring for Potential: Ericsson hires based on potential, not just proven competence. They are committed to growing careers and offer opportunities like shadowing, job rotations, and international roles.

Development of Homegrown Talent: A significant portion of Ericsson’s leaders are homegrown, reflecting their commitment to nurturing talent from within the organization.

Flexibility in Learning Styles: Ericsson acknowledges the diverse generational mix in the workforce and provides multiple learning options to cater to various preferences. Learning cohorts with multi-generational members encourage learning from each other.

Foundational Skills for First-Line Leaders: First-time leaders should prioritize qualities such as humility, clarity, courage, open communication, and a commitment to continuous learning.


Gatik – What’s your view around development of managers and leaders and getting them future ready in Ericsson’s language?

Priyanka – As I mentioned, I’m thrilled to be here and share my thoughts. I firmly believe in the two-way learning nature of these forums. I learn a lot from our audience’s questions and value open dialogue.

In response to your question, early in my career, a mentor emphasized the critical role of leadership in any organization. He stressed that even with the best strategy and technology, without strong leaders, failure is inevitable. Conversely, when facing challenges, strong leaders can lead to success.

For me, leadership development is foundational. It’s key to Ericsson’s success and any organization’s success. We prioritize investing in our leaders alongside technology and other aspects of the business.

Throughout our long history, we’ve faced tough times. In 2017, we were in a challenging situation, but our people and leaders believed we could overcome it, and we did. This experience shaped my leadership journey.

Leadership development is our secret sauce. We invest in our leaders with development programs, interventions, and learning opportunities. What sets us apart is our commitment to nurturing future leaders, creating a strong leadership pipeline.

Gatik – Absolutely, Priyanka. Your journey from the challenges of 2017 to Ericsson’s current leadership position is truly remarkable. It’s inspiring to see such a rapid transformation.

Now, I believe our audience is also feeling connected and inspired by this journey. It’s a classic example of a burning platform experience where you went from severe financial and technological challenges to being at the forefront of your industry in a relatively short time, just three to four years.

So, the burning question for many, including myself, is: How did you do it? What are the key ingredients? Can you distill it down to the core principles and philosophies of leadership and manager development at Ericsson that contributed to this success?

What are some core principles or philosophies around some specific core principles and philosophies around Manager Development or New Age leader development that have really helped you in this journey?

Priyanka- Certainly, Ericsson’s journey has been marked by our commitment to a unique culture built on a strong sense of purpose: making the unimaginable possible through connectivity. This culture, guided by core principles and philosophies, has been instrumental in our success.

First, we emphasize fostering a growth mindset. In our ever-changing industry, challenges and opportunities constantly arise. We encourage our leaders to view every situation as an opportunity and invest heavily in nurturing this mindset.

Second, we’ve crafted a Win-Win narrative. It’s crucial to articulate what we expect from our employees and leaders and what they can expect from us. We’ve committed to being there for our people in every significant moment, with curated conversations, flexibility, and empowerment. This approach makes every leader feel like a CEO running their own business.

Additionally, we’ve invested in our 10,000-plus leaders, equipping them with the behaviors we value most.

Empathy, compassion, encouraging open communication, promoting collaboration, and recognizing collective success are among these behaviors. Our leaders understand that in our organization, collective success is highly valued.

In summary, our core principles and philosophies are communicated clearly to our leaders, and they have a significant impact on our culture and where we are today.

Gatik – Absolutely, and it’s evident, Priyanka, that your passion shines through in your insights. You’ve highlighted the importance of constant investments in leadership, and it’s clear that leaders are at the forefront of your organization. You mentioned behaviors like growth, empathy, and speaking up, which are crucial in your HR journey. Ericsson has been a pioneer in this area, even before it became a widespread practice.

As we continue our conversation, I’d love for you to share insights and tips for our community, especially fellow HR professionals who may be on their own journey of building manager competencies. But before we delve into that, could you elaborate a bit more on the importance of behaviors like growth and empathy? These were not as commonly discussed a few years ago, and there’s been a significant shift in organizations prioritizing these values.

So what are the focus areas are the competencies or behaviors that Ericsson is focusing on for its new age managers now? versus three years, four years back? And how is there a difference in how you’re getting people?

Priyanka – Certainly, it’s quite a thought-provoking question. It forces me to reflect on our long journey at Ericsson, where building leaders has been our primary focus. We view leadership development as an evolutionary approach, recognizing that our leaders and development techniques must evolve continuously. This adaptability is essential in today’s world, where change is the only constant.

We’ve witnessed rapid transformations in our industry and the world, such as geopolitical shifts, technological advancements, and the COVID pandemic. To navigate these changes effectively, we rely on our leaders to guide their teams. Investing in them has been the key to our seamless transition from challenging phases to thriving ones.

“At the heart of our approach is the belief that people are our greatest asset.”

This belief has been integral to Ericsson’s culture, resulting in employees who stay with us for years, even decades. We prioritize creating moments that matter, demonstrating empathy and a deep sense of humanity.

Our leaders play a crucial role in this. They’re not just managers but coaches who engage in meaningful conversations with our people. They create an environment where employees feel psychologically safe and are encouraged to speak up. This approach fosters innovation, growth, and unprecedented career journeys.

We’ve shifted our focus towards power skills and continuous learning, embedding them in our organizational DNA. Leaders are encouraged to engage in continuous learning to stay updated and ensure real-time interactions with their teams.

However, it wasn’t always smooth sailing. Transitioning to a hybrid work environment presented challenges. We had to build trust, foster teaming, and maintain a sense of belonging in a virtual setting. It was an iterative process that required significant investments in leader support and development.

Gatik – I know our community consists of a lot of business leaders, a lot of HR leaders, a lot of learning leaders in various organizations, big mid size small and like I said, So what would be your top recommendations to the folks watching this video wanting to strengthen their leader Manager Development future proofing the leaders, what would be your top two three suggestions, advice or best practices ready that you could share?

Priyanka – Certainly, I can share some key practices we value at Ericsson when it comes to learning and employee development.

“First and foremost, we have a zero-tolerance policy for zero learning. This means we emphasize continuous learning and make it a non-negotiable aspect of our culture. It’s not just about providing learning opportunities; it’s about every employee taking charge of their own learning journey. We firmly believe that every employee is the CEO of their career, and their leader is their mentor, guiding them on this journey. We provide various learning resources, tools, and technology, but the responsibility lies with the individual to decide what, where, and how they want to learn. This approach empowers employees to be proactive about their development.”

Secondly, we focus on growing careers for potential, not just proven competence. We consider every employee as talent and are committed to investing in their growth. This means offering opportunities like shadowing, job rotations, and international roles to help them achieve their career aspirations. We encourage employees to envision and plan their career paths, and we provide the support and resources they need to make it happen.

Lastly, our organization is deeply committed to developing our own talent. Approximately 60% of our leaders are homegrown, which reflects our dedication to nurturing and promoting talent from within. We invest in our people, helping them transition to new roles, whether horizontally or vertically, and succeed in different territories. This commitment to our employees’ growth is a cornerstone of our culture.

In summary, our key practices revolve around continuous learning, employee empowerment, and a strong commitment to growing and developing our talent from within.

Gatik – So the first one I’m going to pick up is this question – According to you, what’s the first step in this direction for upcoming organisations? And the question is, what is the first step in this direction of investing in future leaders or succession planning?

Priyanka – Absolutely, here are the key takeaways:

Trust and Acceptance: Building trust and gaining acceptance from employees is crucial for successful succession planning. Employees need to see real positive outcomes resulting from this commitment.

Open Talent Market: Embracing an open talent market approach where every position is advertised and visible to all employees promotes transparency and equal opportunity. Anyone can apply for open positions, ensuring a fair selection process.

Comprehensive Succession Planning: Implementing a thorough succession planning process is essential. This includes short-term, medium-term, and long-term plans for critical positions. Identifying skill gaps and proactively investing in individuals to prepare them for future roles is a key component.

Hiring for Potential: Encouraging leaders to hire based on potential rather than just proven competence is essential. Developing and grooming employees for more complex roles should be incentivized to foster a culture of growth and development within the organization.

Gatik – Absolutely, Priyanka, I completely resonate with your insights, especially regarding the importance of leadership buy-in. For smaller or midsize organizations looking to implement effective succession planning, it’s vital to focus on gaining the support and buy-in from their leadership teams. This could involve showcasing the value of succession planning through case studies and real-world examples. Additionally, reaching out to experienced leaders like Priyanka and seeking guidance from their network can provide valuable insights and direction. Building a strong case for succession planning and demonstrating its benefits can pave the way for successful implementation in organizations of all sizes.

Another question ‘d be curious to know how Ericsson manages intergenerational teams, right, where the learning styles may vary generationally for Gen X, millennials and Gen Z. What have your experience internally been around this? How has Manager Development changed across different intergenerational groups, is there a difference in the way you look at leader manager development?

Priyanka – Absolutely, and this is a significant consideration given the diverse generational mix in today’s workforce. At Ericsson, we’ve embraced this diversity and recognized that people have various learning preferences and styles. Our approach has always been evolutionary, ensuring that we don’t leave anyone behind.

“Flexibility is crucial. We provide multiple learning options to cater to different preferences, whether it’s classroom-style, flexible, or modular learning. We believe that learning should resonate with an individual’s personal style; otherwise, it won’t be effective.”

Additionally, we encourage learning cohorts that include members from different generations. This allows individuals to learn from each other, bridging the gap between legacy and new technologies. Learning together fosters collaboration and camaraderie, creating a more rewarding experience than a one-size-fits-all approach. In summary, flexibility in learning styles is our key mantra to accommodate the diverse needs of our multi-generational workforce.

Gatik – What foundational skills should a first time manager prioritise while developing to ensure Successful start in the leadership role. What foundational skills – maybe top three top five should be prioritized to help a first time manager be successful in starting their road.

Priyanka – Absolutely, let me condense it:

For first-line leaders, embracing essential qualities is vital. At Ericsson, we highlight humility, clarity, and courage.

Humility: First-line leaders must be open to ideas, feedback, and continuous learning. A growth mindset is essential.

Understanding Expectations: Leaders need a clear understanding of the organization’s principles, behaviors, and culture.

Courage: Leaders should have the courage to be open, transparent, and engage in clear dialogues with their teams. Building relationships is crucial.

Open Communication: Effective, open, and transparent communication is foundational. It strengthens relationships and drives successful team outcomes.

Never Stop Learning: Leadership doesn’t mean stopping learning. It’s crucial to embrace continuous learning as a lifelong process for personal growth and leadership success.

These qualities are foundational for first-line leaders.

Gatik – I’m sure the community has taken away a lot. And thanks, Priyanka, for making time, I know you’re super busy driving all these amazing things at Ericsson. But thank you so much for making time to contribute and create value for the community.

Priyanka – I think I just feel it’s been a truly reflective experience for myself. So thank you so much for giving me this opportunity. Appreciate it.