Society and Stakeholders the Impact of How Unilever Manage Their Interaction F

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DARE TO EMBRACE DIFFERENCES:
LEADERSHIP COMPETENCIES FOR UNILEVER

Maarten-van Beek
Manager, Recruitment
Unilever
Postbus 1925, 3000 BX Rotterdam,
The Netherlands
Tel: (31) 6-53419550
E-mail: Maarten-van.Beek@unilever.com

Grachev, Mikhail V.
Associate Professor of Management
Western Illinois University
3561 60th Street, Moline, Il 61265
USA
Tel (309) 762-9481
Fax (309) 762-6989

Abstract. This paper focuses on leadership competencies in multinational companies. It displays culture-contingent nature of effective leadership and reviews the lessons learned from Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness (GLOBE) research that are applicable to the multinational companies. The authors analyze Unilever’s experience in building leadership competencies and the results of interviews with company managers in Russia. The authors discuss culture-specific adjustments to the process of building leadership competencies in the Russian subsidiary and summarize innovative solutions in leadership development for multinational companies.

Key words: cross-cultural management, leadership, multinational companies, emerging markets

Address correspondence to: Mikhail Grachev, Associate Professor of Management, Western Illinois University, 3561 60th Street, Moline, Il 61265, USA; Tel (309) 762-9481; Fax (309) 762-6989; E-mail: mv-grachev@wiu.edu DARE TO EMBRACE DIFFERENCES:

LEADERSHIP COMPETENCIES FOR UNILEVER

Abstract. This paper focuses on leadership competencies in multinational companies. It displays culture-contingent nature of effective leadership and reviews the lessons learned from Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness (GLOBE) research that are applicable to the multinational companies. The authors analyze Unilever’s experience in building leadership competencies and the results of interviews with company managers in Russia. The authors discuss culture-specific adjustments to the process of building leadership competencies in the Russian subsidiary and summarize innovative solutions in leadership development for multinational companies.

Key words: cross-cultural management, leadership, multinational companies, emerging markets DARE TO EMBRACE DIFFERENCES:
LEADERSHIP COMPETENCIES FOR UNILEVER

Introduction

In the 2000s multinational companies have been seriously considering behavioral resources and leadership competencies in particular, as a source for competitive advantage and sustainable strategic development, while trying to balance global and local perspectives on effective leadership behavior. Universal standards in this area have not been developed yet, and, taking into consideration the contingent nature of strategy and leadership, probably would not be finalized. However, intensive search for practical solutions in absorbing leadership competencies into corporate strategies in successful multinationals such as Johnson&Johnson, 3M, or Unilever, demands theoretical interpretation of these initiatives. Our study focuses on Unilever, a fast moving international consumer goods company. On the one hand, Unilever has seriously considered behavioural resources for winning in the global markets and developed a competency model, the ‘Leadership for Growth Profile’ (LGP), which has been implemented world-wide. On the other hand, Unilever emphasizes its willingness to operate most effectively in local markets – as a multi-local multinational company. That is why we aim to outline the role of cultural differences in the process of building leadership competencies in this global corporation. In this article we suggest an integrated theoretical framework of effective leadership in multinational companies, and further develop this framework by testing it through empirical analysis of leadership competencies at Unilever and at its Russian subsidiary. First, we discuss the contextual issues of effective leadership behavior in...
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