”I’ve learned that my basic nature revolves around curiosity, personal growth, and learning. It’s a package that guides my daily life, thinking, and type of work where I excel,” describes Lauri Toivonen, SVP Marketing at SOK.
In Toivonen’s daily life, this default setting is reflected in his love of reading, seeking observations, and fascination with people and their perspectives on life – as well as business.
”I live by evolving. It’s a deep-rooted part of who I am. I’m interested.”
Toivonen thinks he would not cope or thrive in an environment that did not require constantly challenging oneself. He is more interested in change than in keeping up the status quo.
”To be relevant tomorrow, you need to understand change and the world where people and businesses are heading.”
To be relevant tomorrow, you need to understand change and the world where people and businesses are heading.”
In his role as head of marketing in a large organization, change usually involves exploring shifts in human behavior and anticipating future demands for products and services. The information cannot be obtained solely from a book, course, or seminar but needs to be absorbed from everywhere before synthesizing it into personal views. At the time of the interview, Toivonen is attending an international event in Barcelona. “I’m also here to learn.”
What type of leadership does Toivonen believe in?
The simple answer is conversational.
From a leadership perspective, responsibility means cultivating an atmosphere where everyone knows who they are and what they are aiming for together. Responsible leadership is about consistency, as well as setting boundaries and goals.
Toivonen believes that people need to be heard, regardless of position or title. “A leader’s job is to create an environment where everyone gets to be themselves and have a voice. Discussion is allowed. Coming up with a good or bad solution doesn’t depend on whether you are a boss, expert, or someone else.”
Lately, Toivonen has been focusing on organizational learning. Continuous learning is not an individual sport. He finds it interesting to observe how people approach and absorb new things and take on bigger issues in such different ways. Being surrounded by others makes people inevitably reflect on their personal learning.
It’s really inspiring when a company faces big questions with no immediate answers.”
”It’s really inspiring when a company faces big questions with no immediate answers.”
”My work involves a great deal of dialogue with other parts of the organization to establish our shared future and situational snapshot. You learn constantly as part of a learning network.”
Toivonen completed the EMBA program at Aalto EE a few years ago, which was a tough grind. He has now set himself a development task to pay more attention to interactions with people. He has four children at home, three of whom are teenagers. In other words, the focus on encounters extends beyond work to family life.
What would be the most challenging work-related issue you know in theory but struggle to put into practice?
The answer is familiar – time management.
”I need to learn to manage my time more systematically. It’s strange how tricky it is despite knowing it all in theory.”