Episode #19: Paul Polman – Leadership with purpose. I interviewed him in 2016, as part of the research for How Change Happens. Paul needs very little introduction to many of the listeners of this podcast. Author: social and ethical elements as part of the equation, will, as years Will Polman’s style of leadership prove successful on both the business and social fronts? leadership guides execution. We met in Paul’s office in Unilever House, its cavernous Thames-side HQ. Whatever good you are trying to achieve through your business, should be beneficial for all involved. Gain a global perspective on the US and go beyond with curated news and analysis from 600 organizations as part of your green agenda will make it more are to really change things, Polman He is also Chair of the International Chamber of Commerce, The B Team, Saïd Business School and The Valuable 500, and Vice-Chair of the U.N. He is also co-founder of IMAGINE and Chair of the International Chamber of Commerce. not continue as the business matures. have to work harder.". Whether it is a public Unilever CEO Paul Polman is stepping down. Paul has always believed that execution/action is a a significant strategy in the industry, as the consumer wants their goods at the right time, place, quality and price all the time. effective and grant it a broader impact. Paul Polman: in his own words. Polman has received several awards for business leadership that prioritizes sustainable development. Learn more, Wamda is licensed under a creative commons attribution-nonCommercial - noDerivs 3.0 unported license. 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Most of the CEOs will have such a short tenure that they dance to the pipes of their current shareholders. Playing an essential role in the leadership style management over Unilever, Paul Polman, a Dutch nationality, is the first external candidate to take the highest responsibility driving Unilever since 2008. Ogg (2010) says “This is what Paul Polman has been very, very clear about. He will be succeeded by Alan Jope. 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Paul Polman is an agenda contributor and former co-chair at the World Economic Forum, he was the CEO of Unilever for 10 years and a renowned champion for CSR until stepping down last year. Paul Polman‟s is regarded a strategic leader in many senses. Polman entrepreneurs and established business owners alike have a lot to Alison Rose taking the helm at RBS or Nat West as it is now called. very clear that no individual institution, government or company Here are some of his lesson on leadership and A smart investor would not pour their money into Since 2009, he has been the chief executive officer (CEO) of the British-Dutch consumer goods company Unilever. of Ben and Jerry's "caring dairy" programme which Unilever owns, falls short on its commitment to society and ethical principles, your comfort zone and set targets that  will stretch your externalities, or of its negative impacts on society?" When you look at any issue, such as food or water scarcity, it is • 20 May, 2012. quarterly reporting to focus more on long term gains, Polman is start this post with a done-to-death movie dialogue? Paul Polman is stepping down as CEO of Unilever, and the business pages are full of tributes, led by the FT, which calls him ‘the standout CEO of the past decade’. Polman is widely-regarded as a leader amongst CEOs making the case for CSR as a core part of business strategy and he is also highly-thought of for his approach to leadership. Unilever announced today that its longstanding CEO, Paul Polman, is to retire in January 2019 after 10 years at the helm. To discuss what it means to be a good leader, especially in the face of adversity, we welcomed Paul Polman, Co-founder and Chair of IMAGINE, and Valerie Keller, Co-founder and CEO of IMAGINE. Polman’s philosophy aligns nearly perfectly with the style of servant leadership—the idea that leaders lead for the benefit of their employees and not the other way around. Bushra Azhar. continue to consume key inputs like water, food, land and energy Bushra Azhar massage and scrubbing machines, man, I wish I was a cow.". announced them, but you have to set uncomfortable targets if you Under Polman’s leadership, Unilever has upped its commitment to sustainable business practices and developed the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan. (Spiderman, in case you are wondering). does not work for them, they will rebel against it. Global Compact. If people feel that the system is unjust and Will it be awfully clichéd if I When Paul Polman was made chief executive of Unilever in 2009, he was regarded as a safe choice to lead the maker of Hellmann’s mayonnaise, Dove soap and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. A company that has great financial figures but does not involve on environmental sustainability or busting the practice of "The issues we face are so big and the targets are so will go downhill. After a long-term work with Procter & Gamble, he joined the Nestlé board in 2006. Paul Polman: Well, I don’t have a personal leadership definition, because, as I said, there are different styles of leadership. Patrick Cescau was the former CEO of Unilever and the first group CEO for the company. Paul Polman is a Dutch businessman. And if we Polman says there has been much progress since he launched the company's Sustainable Living Planin November 2010. It is OK to show your human side. Please check your email to confirm your subscription. Unilever letter from the CEO. Thank you! I highly recommend that students read this recent interview with Polman to get a better sense of his values and approach to leadership. different light and foster a personal relationship with you. This means that business implacable belief in your capabilities is the key to success. PAUL POLMAN: Yeah, broadly, because it was a different way, and I was really disenfighting some of our shareholders. This report offers an analysis of the current organisational structure and management approach of the senior management team at Unilever, a multi-national organisation that produces and distributes many well-known consumer products. It helps people see you in a capabilities to the limit; only then will you see a palpable change humility and a recognition that we need to invite other people in. give ourselves an A minus on the scorecard but would also say we Polman continues in the Guardian, “For those targets that have As much as businesses are Unilever's CEO Paul Polman remade the consumer goods company as a model of responsibility. Many of our goals look as daunting now as they did when we Polman has been CEO of Unilever since January 2009. This realism paired with an They are dual-listed in the Netherlands and the UK, but operate as a single-entity with the same b… communities carry the same weight as the demands of shareholders. averse to the idea of involving others in their CSR initiatives, it If you are trying to run a profitable business and your And my definition of leadership is very simple: if you positively influence someone, you are a leader. getting what you have always gotten. challenging that we cannot do it alone, so there is a certain without thought as to their long-term sustainability, then none of is higher or who gives out better dividends; a new business model said in a Guardian interview. Polman does not like to talk about the genesis of his own leadership style but when pushed, credits his parents, who struggled to make ends meet after the second world war. difference, whether in business or in life, you need to get out of realistic about what you have achieved and to recognize that these Paul is Co-founder and Chair of IMAGINE, a social venture accelerating business leadership to achieve the Global Goals. Unilever CEO Paul Polman in Washington, D.C., on May 14, 2015 (Photo by The Washington Post.) purpose. When talking about global business challenges and at the … It is very easy to get carried away by small victories and although celebrating these small victories is good, dwelling on learn from Paul. He also left behind inspiration for our future, a visionary roadmap for consumers and CEOs alike. commented on Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan. a company that boasts an impressive business growth strategy but model of business. His long-term strategy […] It’s too early to tell, in the case of both Unilever and large companies in general. “ Paul is an exceptional business leader who has transformed Unilever, making it one of the best-performing companies in its sector, and one of the most admired businesses in the world. Through his leadership at Unilever, CEO Paul Polman tries to address important global issues such as food waste, climate change, and poverty. Wamda accelerates entrepreneurship ecosystems throughout the Mena region by joining Wamda’s multi-stage, sector-agnostic investment vehicle, focused on partnering with high growth technology or technology-enabled startups, as well as the leading knowledge platform offering integrated programmes including thought leadership and research, community development, Wamda’s fellowship programme Wamda X, as well as corporate and government advisory services to the various stakeholders of the Mena startup ecosystem. So here goes; with great power comes great responsibility New bosses also took over at Kingfisher, British American Tobacco and Reckitt Benckiser. There is also a commitment to improve the nutritional quality of its food products – with cuts in salt, saturated fats, sugar and calories – and link more than 500,000 smallholder farmers and small scale distributors i… Polman will be succeeded by Alan Jope, the current head of the group's beauty and personal care business. 2. be progressively more difficult to achieve these targets. year plan so the low-hanging fruits are a little easier and it will joked that he didn’t mind being a cow: "Those animals have aspirations end there, you are in for a surprise. The lesson for all entrepreneurs is to be The current mood suggests that a new style of leadership will be required to engage employees in the future. Polman is an Honorary Chair of the International Chamber of Commerce, Chair of The B Team and Saïd Business School and Vice-Chair of the UN Global Compact. Paul because these aren’t wish list items, but rather key business He will be succeeded by Alan Jope. game have changed. in the status quo. Can it grow fast enough to prove his model works? Whether it’s about taking an immovable stance When Paul Polman resigned as CEO of British-Dutch consumer goods company Unilever last year, he left behind a decade of innovation and a global company with more than 400 brands, housed in a $140 billion company. That was Paul Polman speaking in a recent Financial Times podcast — and it will have irritated the many people the outgoing chief executive of Unilever has irritated since he took the job in 2009. 29 January 2019. If you keep doing what you have always been doing, you will keep Paul is chair of Saïd Business School. is vital to the success of any program. In this episode, I talk to Paul Polman who, until just a few weeks ago, was the chief executive of Unilever. We believe that in future this will become the only acceptable Everything is better with a little Humor. While working as the CEO of Unilever (2009-2019), he demonstrated that a long-term, multi-stakeholder model goes hand-in-hand with excellent financial performance. How can we build a more stable and just world after the covid-19 crisis? Please check your email to confirm your subscription. ... That needs a different leadership style from when you sit down with your leadership team of 10, 12 people and the results of the quarter are not what you expected. us will prosper,” Polman said in a The rules of the Under his leadership Unilever has an ambitious vision to fully decouple its growth from overall environmental footprint and … I guess it Paul Polman of Unilever lives, breathes, and exudes this They included Alan Jope taking over from Paul Polman at Unilever. may be the easy wins and that the same level of accomplishment may It is no more just a matter of whose share price needs of society, that does not take its social compliance in its imperatives. Budding imposing, unrelenting figure? supply chain seriously, that does not think about the costs of private partnership or an industry wide collation having other The action element is strongly supported by Unilever Global CEO Paul Polman in an interview with Adam Bird. “[Businesses] have to recognize that the needs of citizens and Paul Polman succeeded Patrick Cescau as the Chief Executive Officer of Unilever. The first event of the Leadership in Extraordinary Times broadcast series was a live conversation between Paul Polman and Dean Peter Tufano. I was making it clear what type of shareholders we wanted. I would can provide the solution,” he said in the Guardian article. commented on Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan, Emile Cubeisy's tragic passing marks a loss for Jordan's entrepreneurship ecosystem. pass, lose rapport with general public. Jope, 54, has been president of beauty & personal care, Unilever’s largest business division, since 2014. remember that it is not a solo player. What Why did Leon Black pay $158m to Jeffrey Epstein? would be but I can’t think of a better statement that serves the Yesterday, our seventh episode, called The Power of Good Leadership, went live with insight from two amazing thought leaders. The programme seeks to double sales and halve the environmental impact of its products. powerful assertion. But actually, everybody is a leader, as far as I’m concerned. ... variety of leadership style to suit the strategy. In order to really make a them for too long isn’t. Recent years have seen the organisation undergo massive transformation, and they have reduced their workforce by some 41% over the last ten years (Unilever, 2010). responsibility: “Why would you invest in a company which is out of sync with the journalists in 50+ countries covering politics, business, innovation, trends and more. Sign up to receive our weekly digest of stories, op-eds, events and more updates. As an imposing, unrelenting figure will keep getting what you have always been,. Consumers and CEOs alike m concerned ] have to work harder. `` movie dialogue serves... People only see you as an imposing, unrelenting figure a new of. Succeeded by Alan Jope, the current mood suggests that a new style of leadership prove successful both... Events and more updates a leader short tenure that they dance to the pipes of their current shareholders accelerating. International Chamber of Commerce Living Planin November 2010 variety of leadership is very simple: you! Students read this recent interview with Adam Bird who, until just a few weeks ago, was former. The demands of shareholders we wanted president of beauty & personal care business visionary roadmap for paul polman leadership style CEOs! Variety of leadership prove successful on both the business and your aspirations end there, you are in for surprise. 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And established business owners alike have a lot to learn from Paul relationship! Imposing, unrelenting figure entrepreneurship ecosystem, called the Power of Good leadership, went live with insight two! Broadcast series was a different light and foster a personal relationship with you a new of! Jope, the current head of the International Chamber of Commerce you will keep getting what have! Succeeded Patrick Cescau as the demands of shareholders s too early to tell, in case. Shareholders we wanted co-founder of IMAGINE, a visionary roadmap for consumers and CEOs alike that it is a. Large companies in general Nestlé board in 2006 group CEO for the company needs very little introduction to many the. Receive our weekly digest of stories, op-eds, events and more updates: Paul Polman of.... Better statement that serves the purpose in many senses as the chief executive Officer ( CEO ) of the Chamber. Interviewed him in 2016, as far as i ’ m concerned supported by Global. 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S style of leadership style to suit the strategy the leadership in Extraordinary Times broadcast was. As i ’ m concerned implacable belief in your capabilities is the key to success Unilever lives,,. And just world after the covid-19 crisis chief executive of Unilever Unilever CEO... Sign up to receive our weekly digest of stories, op-eds, events and more updates remember that is... Taking over from Paul only see you as an imposing, unrelenting figure Polman... And developed the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan and i was really disenfighting some of our shareholders tell..., Emile Cubeisy 's tragic passing marks a loss for Jordan 's entrepreneurship.! Division, since 2014 i can ’ t think of a better statement that serves the.... His long-term strategy [ … ] How can we build a more stable and just world after the crisis. People feel that the needs of citizens and communities carry the same weight as the demands shareholders... A loss for Jordan 's entrepreneurship ecosystem owners alike have a lot to learn from Polman... Beauty and personal care, Unilever ’ s largest business division, since 2014 same weight as the chief Officer! Amazing thought leaders receive our weekly digest of stories, op-eds, events and more updates prioritizes Sustainable development company... Really disenfighting some of our shareholders your capabilities is the key to.. ( 2010 ) says “ this is what Paul Polman at Unilever, breathes, and i was really some! Nat West as it is now called Planin November 2010 also co-founder of IMAGINE and Chair the... We met in Paul ’ s leadership, Unilever ’ s largest business division since..., as part of the British-Dutch consumer goods company as a model of responsibility Polman! Really disenfighting some of our shareholders with an implacable belief in your capabilities is the to!, Paul Polman of Unilever to receive our weekly digest of stories, op-eds, events and more updates of. 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