How a cultural movement is inspiring an industry veteran

Forrest Gump. The Karate Kid. Rocky. There’s a reason these movies are iconic. Everyone loves a good comeback story.

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Shannon Lucas

VP, Head of Emerging Business Global Customer Unit

Likewise, Ericsson has been at the center of more than one comeback of its own. We've always found a way to succeed, even when start-ups and "the next big thing" are high on everyone's radars.

How has Ericsson done this for 140+ years?

For me, it all comes down to our people.

I joined the company a little more than a year ago. In a way, this affords me a fairly new and unique perspective on things.

Back then, Ericsson was in the midst of a transformation. We took a good hard look at our business and evaluated what was most important, our vision for the future and what it would take to get there.

One of those "most important" things that stood out for Ericsson were its people.

Culture starts at the top

This past fall I had the privilege of attending our global leadership summit. Our President and CEO Börje Ekholm spent more than an hour sharing his vision for Ericsson, having real and honest conversations with us. It was heartfelt and apparent through his words how much he loves and believes in the company and its people. It still makes me emotional to think about this.

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But it's not just our CEO. So many leaders I work with are both inspirational and skilled in ensuring the softer side of culture meshes seamlessly with the hard lines of the business. For example, Niklas Heuveldop, our Head of Market Area North America, and Jennifer Hulett, our Head of Human Resources, have been a driving force behind our culture movement, which has not only reignited a dynamic culture across Ericsson North America but has, not by coincidence, resulted in a tremendously profitable 2018. Our leaders recognize that an inspired workforce is a driven workforce.

Authenticity is key

When you are led by authentic, inspiring leaders, it trickles down to every level. Through their example, our leaders have set a tone that inspires confidence in an open, collaborative and supportive environment.

During the leadership summit I mentioned previously, I thought it was especially poignant that our CEO spent a significant amount of time not only sharing his vision, but answering our specific questions. Even the tough ones. It was an amazing moment of vulnerability where he stood there until every last question was answered.

I left that room motivated to follow Börje through thick and thin.

We model this depth of authenticity at all levels throughout Ericsson.

By seeing our leaders being real at every level, employees are validated to bring their true authentic self to work every day. This is game changing because the open conversations that need to happen to ensure continued success only happen if you've created a safe space where everyone is empowered to share their ideas.

I can honestly say this is a peak career experience for me personally. I vividly remember being asked by my career coach several years ago, "What would it feel like to work for a company that valued the work you did?"

At the time, the question brought tears to my eyes because it was something that I so desperately craved. Deep down I think that's what we all crave. To truly feel validated and appreciated for the contributions we make. It's part of what motivates us to persevere through challenges.

It's also a key ingredient in a recipe that allows meaningful grassroots movements to take off, like #ericssonAWEsome. #ericssonAWEsome is a tangible part of our people culture that so many have rallied around to give voice to what makes us unique – our cultural pillars to Act to Accelerate, Act to Win and Act to Execute. It fosters belonging and a sense of collective pride. We even have T-shirts!

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Take a peek at what #ericssonAWEsome is about on our @ericssonna Instagram page or by searching #ericssonAWEsome on your favorite social media channel.

Fail fast and learn

One of our cultural tenets is to fail fast and learn. Failure isn't necessarily a bad thing when you can learn from it. I've observed Ericsson staying true to its culture of authenticity from a business standpoint by being receptive to and encouraging of employees' new and innovative ideas, even if it means venturing into unfamiliar territory.

An example is the world-class incentive structure I was able to get approval to implement for my team. Based on McKinsey's Three Horizons Model, the system encourages innovation by rewarding employees for meeting goals related to business in three distinct areas: mature, rapidly growing and emerging. This incentive structure is revolutionary and a true testament to Ericsson's openness to listening to the ideas of its employees.

I'm sharing these insights because my first year at Ericsson has been such a profound, outstanding life experience. Ericsson's leadership and global community have truly inspired me. I am proud to be part of a movement that has given me renewed purpose both personally and professionally.

And I'm not alone. Time and again I hear similar feedback from my colleagues. If you're skeptical, please don't just take my word for it. I invite you to check out Ericsson's career page and talk to a recruiter. We are always looking for authentic individuals to come be #ericssonAWEsome alongside us!


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