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Unilever has been in business since the 1880s, but it was formed in 1930. The main
vision of Unilever is helping people to look good, feel good, and get more out of life.
In the early years they become interested in a new product made from animal fats and
oils such as soap (Sunlight) and margarine. The corporation sets new focus on sources
of raw materials products Throughout the early 1900s , Unilever experienced tough
economic conditions including the Great Depression and World War II. By the mid-
1900s , Unilever was stable. The 1960s brings optimism and a time for Unilever to
expands through innovation and acquisition, setting up advertising agencies, market
research companies and packaging business. During the 1970s, Unilever had hard
economic conditions, including high inflation that took its toll on the consumer goods
and leas to flat sales. At the start of 1980s , Unilever is the world’s 26th largest
business. Unilever becoming more focused on its core business offering. . The new
business focus continues in the 1990s by creates four core business area
(restructuring) : Home Care, Personal Care, Foods and Speciality Chemicals. The new
structure includes 12 business groups, each responsible for a mix of geographical and
product areas. The 21st century , started with the launch of Path to Growth – a strategy
to transform the business, leading to more acquisitions and the rationalization od
manufacturing and production sites to form centers of excellence. Start from 2010 ,
Unilever builds on its corporate responsibility credentials by entering the new decade
with a new strategy: The Compass. It aims to double the size of the business while
reducing our environmental impact. To support this strategy, the Unilever Sustainable
Living Plan launches in 2010 outlining our commitments with three key goals set for
completion by 2020:
 We will help more than a billion people improve their health and well
 We will halve the environmental impact of the making and use of our
We will enhance the livelihoods of thousands of people in our supply chain.
Today, More than 172.000 people in more than 26 countries work for Unilever and
42% of their manager are women. They has more than 400 brands. Many of these
brands have long-standing and strong social mission . Unilever is the number 1 fast-
moving consumer goods employer of choice among students in 26 countries and they
are emerging market. Many people use their product, from feeding your family to
keeping your home clean and fresh, their brand are part of everyday life. Unliever has
established a clear direction for the organization in order to meet the diverse needs of
its customer. Its direction is made a clear that constitute Unilever vision :
 We work to create a better future everyday, a healthier future, a more
confident future
 We help people feel good,look good and get more out of life with brands
and services that are good for them and good for others
 We will inspire people to take small everyday actions that can add up to a
big difference for the world
 We will develop new ways of doing business with the aim of doubling the
size of our company while reducing our environmental impact.

Discussions Questions

1. How does Unilever display its commitment to leadership ?

In order to meet its stated purpose, leadership must begin at the top of the
organization and flow through all levels to insure commitment is present
across all of Unilever’s employees. The definition of Leadership at Unilever is
“ If you positively influence someone, you are a leader”. With this beliefs,
Unilever has been able to achieve such a high level of success in its industry.
However, the leadership vision and commitment needs to transcend further
into the organization in order to truly make a significant impact on the

2. How has this commitment to leadership allowed it to capitalize on

opportunities in the marketplace ?

Because of leadership issues, Unilever felt that they must to make the changes
to sustain Unilever’s competitive edge in the market place. In order to
maintain its strategic leadership , the focus will changes to achieve long-term
goals. As Unilever moves forward , it is clear that Unilever focused on
performance and they start from a strong base of values and principles :
integrity, trust, investing in people, doing the right thing for the long term.
In very competitive market Unilever need to further increase consumer and
customer focus, speed of action, and responsibility and accountability. To
achieve this, they have made the organization flatter, simplified target setting
and sharpened individual performance management. Time will tell if the
leadership principles and believes put in place at Unilever will continue to
benefit the organization as well as all its stakeholders.
Problem solving

If you were an upper excecutive within Unilever, how would you apply the concepts
you have learned about leadership to your position ?

As an upper excecutive (leader) in Unilever I will behave with integrity. In

addition, I will be honest, credible and consistent in all things that i do and also
empowers other by providing them with information, responsibilities, authority and
trust. I would apply the best style that matches the demand of each unique situation.
In my opinion, the Hersey and Blanchard’s situational theory model is the best style
for Unilever.
The Hersey and Blanchard's situational theory model underlines that
successful leaders do adjust their styles based on the task readinesss / task maturity of
followers. Readiness in this sense refers to how able/willing/confident followers are
to perform required tasks. It is interesting to set the Hersey and Blanchard model as it
seems that the characteristics of Unilever are a mature and confident group of leaders
who are happy to delegate tasks and responsibility, and thus leverage the best from
their employees.
They also able to adopt and react flexibly to change. Moreover, they also
assimilate and absorb new businesses into the estate rapidly, and embraces the culture
changes, which must necessarily follow. Despite the size of Unilever, it is remarkable
that they are able to adapt so readily to change at both an internal and external level,
and across global boundaries. In fact that they had the worst effects of the recession, it
requires them to be adaptive and flexible to consumer trends - a style which is
reflected in both their culture and leadership.

Further Research

Investigate Unilever’s international operations. Where do you feel it possesses the

strongest presence ?
What is it doing to further its position in the international market ?
When Unilever have responsibility not only work with integrity and give respect with
others, but also give positive impact in physic and social environment
To be able to survive in the international market Unilever should do :
1. Study about Cultural difference
Culture can affect business decisions in many ways from language barriers to
pricing difficulties to cultural collusion this is bound to happen. To survive in
another country it has to comply with the cultural values of the country, except
when the product is been standardize.Unilever must came up with cultural
framework, for a product to be accepted in a society it must comply with the
demands of culture in the society.
2. Needs to create awareness and for its products
It is important to be aware of the manners and customs in the country, if the
first impression about a product goes wrong, it would be hard to shake off the
impression. To attract more customer this could done through communication
( the local language ) Law and Politics, religion, education, social
organisation, values and attitudes, aesthetic,and technology would influence
the decision of Unilever operating in foreign country
3. Finding the needs of customer in each different countries
Unilever was able to respond to the cultural demands by scanning the
environment and finding out the actual need of their market target, they
adjusted the product to the taste of each countries.
4. Know the political and legal issues of the country
This political decision has direct effects on the economic
environment, social and cultural environment and the way which
technology appears and are adopted through tax dispensation for
research and development of technology.

In my opinion Leadership at Unilever is Effective because Unilever believe that

“everybody is a leader if they have positive impact on someone” .That statement is
very simple but give huge impact for others. With this beliefs, it is very clear why
Unilever has been able to achieve such a high level of success in its industry. Unilever
is committed to provide a better future for the planet by supporting sustainability and
providing our consumers around the world with the products they need to look good,
feel good and get more out of life. Furthermore , to truly make a significant impact on
organization they inspiring people to take small everyday actions that can add up to a
big difference for the world. In addition, The CEO, Paul Polman believes say “people
achieve more when you don’t tell them what to do”. Unilever want people who want
to make a difference, want to be valued, want to be part of the success.

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