Untap your entrepreneurial potential with this summer's leadership course by Aalto University Summer School and AVP

The Scale-Up Leadership summer course by Aalto University Summer School and Aalto Ventures Program equips you with the tools you need for leading your people and the company culture during fast-paced growth.
Two men listening to a lecture

The scale-up phase of a company is often a much-welcomed stage of a growing business. However, it is not always a walk in the park for the leaders and founders of the organisation. How do you keep up with the growing amount of communication and onboarding of new talents? And how can a healthy and thriving company culture be maintained and nurtured during intensive growth?

We spoke with the responsible teachers of the summer course Scale-Up Leadership about how to tackle the challenges leaders face while in charge for a quickly growing organisation. Lidia Borisova is Head of Education at Aalto Ventures Program and Peter Kenttä is a visiting lecturer at Aalto University and management educator at Filosofian Akatemia.

Picture of Lidia Borisova She is wearing a white shirt and red scarf and is smiling towards the camera.

Lidia, what are the biggest challenges an organisation or business venture faces when growth increases quickly? 

  1. The need to raise funding, expand production and research new markets easily gets prioritised during the scale-up phase instead of focusing on communication efforts and nurturing the organisational culture.
  2. A rapidly changing working culture should always be guided, not random. New talents are hired that are not ready to commit to the company development 24/7 like the founders' team. It can sometimes be challenging for founders to understand the differences between the roles of shareholders and salaried employees.
  3. The delegation of tasks. The growth phase is usually when founders start to trust that core operational tasks can be executed by other team members. It is not easy because the price of a mistake might be too high. However, the cost of not thinking about strategic development is even higher.
Peter Kenttä in a black blazer and black shirt, smiling towards the camera.

The people and culture aspect is critical for a well-functioning organisation. Peter, how will the course take up challenges and solutions for this aspect?

‘Flexible, skilled teams are the core of company success. Investors don't invest in the idea or prototype but in the team capable of executing the vision. In the Scale-Up course, we will follow different stages of the company growth and see how to facilitate effective teaming according to these stages. By effective teaming, we mean how to prepare the teams to be ready to tackle ambiguity and learn from failures that often are unavoidable in a period of radical change.’ says Peter Kenttä.

‘The course underscores the importance of changing leadership priorities as the company grows. This requires incredible flexibility both in leaders' actions and mindset, who need to understand that a single recipe for leadership is not enough in a fast-paced growth environment.’ Kenttä continues.

What should leaders keep in mind when managing a quickly growing team?

‘We all, especially leaders, are prone to the “naïve” realism mistake. We think that we see the actual reality of things, and others around us see the same. But it’s far from being true.

Company employees most likely have different mindsets than leaders. Their mindsets affect their work commitment and their expectations for the leaders. By acknowledging their own mindsets, leaders can prevent communication conflicts and foster the creation of a vibrant company culture. In this course, we will learn how the human mind works, what kind of psychological biases we might have and practice different mindsets to be able to create a smooth and effective leadership style.’ Borisova comments.

Lidia and Peter, how can students that are aspiring leaders or entrepreneurs benefit from this course?

The course is like preventive medicine for students. Students will be aware of natural challenges and will be prepared to prevent them or solve them with high effectiveness, in some cases, that will even help to save the companies. The course will help students and future leaders practice self-resilience and capabilities to create resilient teams. The last ones could be useful in entrepreneurship or startup journeys and in the corporate environment as well.

Share experiences with peers from the industry

The course format includes many workshops and discussions where participants will learn from each other and share their experiences. In addition, Aalto University Summer School will also organize different networking possibilities and student excursions during the course.

The course caters to practitioners with practical experience in venture development and master’s level students aiming to impact fast-paced growth environments.

Does this sound like something for you? Become a better leader this summer – read more and apply for the Scale-Up Leadership course by Aalto University Summer School here:

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Aalto University Summer School

Aalto University Summer School offers high quality academic summer courses and programs at Aalto University.

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