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GSP6064 Leadership and Change Management , Gulf College, Oman

Assessment Task

You are to produce a 3000-word individual reflective account styles and traits and competencies that were exhibited in the case; evaluate in the case; evaluate the leadership styles and traits of Unilever; assess how the company will grab the opportunity to win market share by making the brand 100 percent guaranteed environmentally and socially sustainable in the context of the company's culture and the wider competitive environment.

Task 1 : Introduction of change management and leadership

In the case of most organisations, change management and leadership development are among its top priorities. However, many tend to fall short of their goals as they treat them as separate entities instead of realising that the two challenges have a rather intricate relationship with each other (Quinn and Quinn, 2016). It is not possible to bring about changes without leadership, nor is it possible to have quantifiable results without coordination between the management and the leadership efforts.

Change management usually refers to a structured approach that helps with the transitioning of individuals, teams as well as organisations, from its present state to a future position that will be perceivably better than the current one. This change is brought about with the intention to fulfil and implement a particular strategy or vision and can be referred to as being an organisational process that is aimed at encouraging employees to feel empowered and therefore consequently embrace the changes that are being implemented (Hayes, 2018). Any change within an organisation should start with a particular vision and must be prompted by a number of external factors, together with the internal impact, which further clarifies the need for change. This vision also provides much-needed assistance for imparting motivation to those who are responsible for taking action in the right direction.

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Successful change management requires clarity and alignment in terms of leadership, but many leaders often remain reluctant in order to avoid disruption in their business. There needs to be absolute clarity when it comes to focus and purpose, in addition to alignment in resolution goals and strategic philosophy (Llopis, 2016). Many organisations are often quite slow when it comes to changing the internal politics as it makes it quite difficult to come to a unanimous decision across the different levels of leadership (Quinn and Quinn, 2016). This often happens even when there is urgency related to the decision-making process, and thus, as a result, a lot of valuable resources, such as money, time and others, are wasted, without achieving any concrete or tangible outcome.

When it comes to the leadership concepts, it would perhaps be safe to state that leaders are not born, but instead they are made and nurtured. Any individual with the desire and the willpower to become a leader can attain success. It is a process by which an individual can influence others to meet a set of objectives and direct any organisation to make it more coherent as well as cohesive. The basis of a good leader lies in their character, together with a sense of selfless service towards the organisation they are affiliated with. Change management is therefore an integral concept that must be taken care of by a leader.

Background of the case

This particular case deals with the process of Lipton, one of the most well-known brands of Unilever, and its journey to be more credible among its consumers in terms of sustainability. The brand had a massive global market share and thus having a sustainable practice in place would affect the tea markets all over the world, which encouraged the company to establish a partnership with the Rainforest Alliance, the non-governmental organisation that is dedicated to conserving biodiversity and ensuring sustainable livelihoods especially for farmers. The entire process and experience helped Unilever understand that adapting to the local contexts, along with the identification of the right partners, were important for dealing with the challenges related to sustainability.

Objectives of the assignment

The objectives of this assignment are to provide an account of the leadership styles, traits and competencies that were exhibited in case of Unilever, and to assess the manner in which the organisation made use of the available opportunities to win and expand its market share by bringing about a 100 per cent environmental sustainability.

Task 2 : Identification of the internal and external forces

For any organisation, the environmental performance or its sustainability involves the development of strategies that are in alignment with the various internal and external drivers that shape the practices that it adopts (Kuipers, et al., 2014). This also helps assess the relationship between profitability and environmental practices. The purpose of this sustainability for any organisation, such as Unilever, is to bring about an improvement in the social, environmental and economic performance, and these aspects also act as the indicators that assess sustainability (Jones,2013).

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These factors help to assess the direction in which development is occurring. Moreover, sustainability is related to the emotional demands through the environmental and social prerequisites along with the rational demands and is important for the economic outlook of the business (Millar, Hind and Magala, 2012). The internal forces can be constituted by the people, the leadership styles, the organisational environment, and the company’s mission (Al-Haddad and Kotnour, 2015). The external environment exists outside the organisation but has a significant impact on its operations in terms of its growth, operations and sustainability (Contrafatto and Burns, 2013), and therefore cannot be ignored at all.

Application of the factors in the case

In the given case study, a number of factors were functioning both internally and externally. When it came to the internal forces, it was noticed that there was a significant expansion in terms of the market, as the teams allotted for the US, Japan and Australia were able to introduce the newly certified tea well ahead of the intended schedule. In terms of the external forces, there was a massive increase that has been experienced when it came to the demand for tea that was ethically certified. This change was brought about due to the involvement of the Ethical Tea Partnership, which was originally set up in 1997 with the idea to improve the issues pertaining to the supply chain. Together with the Rainforest Alliance, it was able to increase its capacity and move towards a certified sustainable production, and many other tea producers, therefore, stared negotiating the targets as well.

Task 3 : Identification of the factors that could hinder the change

In terms of organisational change, there are a number of factors that can hinder the achievement of the goals.

Some of these factors can be identified as follows –

Economic or financial barriers: Many economists have observed that the developmental models often tend to lay emphasis on economic growth instead of prioritising the rights of the people, along with the limits of the environmental processes (Rainey and Fernandez, 2012). In other words, organisations often treat the environment as part of the economy, while they should be treating the economy as part of the environment (Giunipero, Hooker and Denslow, 2012). In order to overcome these barriers, the economy must be so adapted as to ensure the proper maintenance of the environmental services.

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Innovation barriers: Many sectors have a severe shortage of research related to innovation, which implies that that the connection between it and the economy should be closer, as it would help overcome the issues that concern the transfer of knowledge to real-life applications (Leal-Rodríguez, et al., 2014).

Social barriers: In the current world, the major social challenges that hinder the achievement of sustainable development are population growth together with unsustainable production and consumption patterns. This is more prevalent among the economically wealthier classes, and due to an absence of any significant changes in human behaviour, there is very limited potential for sustainability (Ávila, et al., 2017).

Moreover, awareness regarding sustainability is rather limited, and there is a limited amount of interaction when it comes to the government and civil society. Private sectors often lack the required incentives to pursue this sustainable development, which is another hindrance.

Political barriers: Policies pertaining to the social, economic and environmental methods could be inadequate, and thus could come across as major barriers in the implementation of development and change that is sustainable in nature (de Paiva Duarte,2015).

Institutional barriers: These often result from a lack of experience when it comes to operating the various mechanisms of the democratic system. This often gives rise to poor sustainable development in many organisations, especially those in developing countries.

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Poor evaluation or monitoring systems: This is another basic problem that implies a lack of resources to track or measure the progress of the developments, which makes it difficult for decision-makers to come to a unanimous opinion regarding a particular aspect. The sustainable strategies need to be monitored regularly to further understand how to strengthen them and increase their effectiveness (Martínez-Jurado and Moyano- Fuentes, 2014). It is not just the outcome but also the impact of the projects in terms of socio-economic development that must be considered.

Application of the factors in the case

In the given case regarding Unilever and its brand Lipton, there were numerous factors that hindered the pursuit of sustainable growth and development in terms of change. For instance, when the company decided to collaborate with the Rainforest Alliance and source its tea only from the certified farms, it was discovered that the situation was different for every country. The legal frameworks of the supplier countries were vastly different, which can be seen as the political hindrance that was faced by the brand. Moreover, it was observed that the supple bases were often majorly fragmented, which meant that it was more difficult to source the products from the farmers.

Task 4 : Identification of the types of change implemented in the case

The type of change that was implemented in this case by Unilever is that of an organisation- wide change. In other words, the change implemented was strategic in nature and was concerned with the overall goals, missions, and purpose of the brand (Millar, Hind and Magala, 2012). In this case, the intention behind this change was to increase the sustainability of the different processes, starting from the acquisition of the products to the entire manner in which the supply chain was managed.

Organisations today need to be managed in such a way as to address the demands of the micro as well as the macro environment in which it functions. Moreover, the market is rather transitory in nature, and therefore flexibility is an important aspect that also must be addressed (Pollack, 2012). A strategic organisational change usually fosters new practices in terms of management practices and helps realise the mission as well as the goals of the organisation. The senior management, or the leadership, of the organisation, has the responsibility to outline the necessity as well as the other requirements for the implementation of such a change (By, Burnes and Oswick, 2012).

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The need for change in Unilever arose with the identification of the opportunity that a greater market share would be procured by making Lipton a brand that was socially and environmentally sustainable. The leader, Mr Leijnse, was also confident that this move could be applied for other brands under the organisation. In order to be credible with the consumers, the change that was implemented to was lend a certification of sustainability to the plantations, which would ultimately help Lipton Tea become a 100 per cent sustainable brand. The improved sustainability of the entire supply chain would also mean that they would be able to tell the same to the consumers, which would consequently affect its global market share as it already had a major stake in the world market.

Application of the types in the case and strengths and weaknesses in their application

The first change that was sought by the organisation was to acquire the third-party certification of the plantations, and the partners who could be suitable for that were evaluated according to their capacity, flexibility and the kind of consumers they serve. They also assessed the capability of these outfits to work with the local organisations, their ability to train employees, and also in terms of certifying the small as well as the large suppliers. Rainforest Alliance, a major non-governmental organisation based in the US, was picked and they were allocated with the responsibility to work towards caring for biodiversity and make sure that the methods used were sustainable. The NGO itself is dedicated towards ensuring that the standards of worker welfare, environmental protection, and farm management were in accordance with the given parameters.

The second change was when Unilever made a public announcement regarding its brand Lipton. The target was to certify the PG Tips tea bags as well as the Yellow Label tea by Lipton as sustainable by 2010, and the intention was to certify the entire range of Lipton tea globally by 2015. There were many other changes that Unilever had to endorse in terms of sustainability. For instance, the organisation teamed up with Imaflora, a local organisation in Argentina that helped collaborate with more than 6,000 farmers who had very little idea when it came to the application of best and sustainable practices in agriculture.

In this case, the strength was that there was a marked increase in the sales as well as the market share when the certified tea was brought forward to the shelves. Moreover, it was more appealing to the younger generations, possibly because they are more educated and hence a lot more aware regarding the concerns pertaining to sustainability and the environment. The sustainability initiatives could be easily implemented in countries such as Kenya, as their partner, the Rainforest Alliance, had been functional in the region for quite some time. However, a weakness of this implemented change lay in the fact that the conditions for sustainable farming and supply management were vastly different for the other countries, and they were sometimes a lot more fragmented, with diverse frameworks. Thus, the organisation had to undertake special procedures in all the various contexts for developing a network of partnerships with the local organisations that were somewhat experienced.

Recommendation for applicable leadership and change management theories

When it comes to change management, it is very important for any organisation to apply specific leadership and change management theories for implementing the change successfully and overcoming the resistance from the workers or employees. In order to be able to give recommendations related to the leadership theory that could be applied in this case for bringing about successful implementation of the change, it is first important to understand the reasons or the attitudes of the workers that give rise to the intention to resist the change (Saleem and Naveed, 2017).

This resistance is often seen as a factor that is provoked by an entire group instead of just an individual, although it could be driven by a worker’s response to the instability and disturbance that the changes might bring. They may often believe that the suggested changes bring little or no advantage to the organisation, or could even misunderstand the repercussions of the change. It could also be in direct conflict with their self-interests, thereby giving rise to resistance among them (Bateh, Castaneda and Farah, 2013). Many scholars have suggested that overcoming this sort of resistance lies in encouraging the workers to be involved in the decision-making processes by ensuring that they have important participatory roles. Although many scholars have argued that employees often do not resist the change but the management concepts that they find unjustified or not reasonable enough (Hechanova and Cementina-Olpoc, 2013), it would be wise to assume that they equate organisational change with a subsequent loss of freedom, selective perception, and economic repercussions.

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In this particular case, the leadership theory that could be recommended for Unilever in order to deal with the management of change would be that of a transformational leadership style. This is because this theory or leadership trait takes into account the concerns pertaining to the followers as well, which would imply that the workers would develop a sense of inclusivity, thereby reducing the resistance that could be faced during the implementation of the change (Saleem and Naveed, 2017).

Transformational leadership is when leaders broaden their scope and include even their employees in the decision-making processes. This stimulates their intellect and the leader gains a considerable amount of charisma and respect, which ensures that the employees would be more willing to support them and the organisation during change (Saleem and Naveed, 2017). Unilever can, therefore, utilise this leadership theory to ensure that there is less resistance to the changes it has brought about pertaining to the environmental sustainability of its brand Lipton and all of its products. This style of leadership is often instrumental in encouraging creativity and acceptance towards change, as such leaders are often visionaries, and are adept at stimulating the hidden self-actualisation needs according to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (Saleem and Naveed, 2017). These various components of transformational leadership, therefore, make it the best- suited approach to managing change along with the reaction of the employees and the followers with the attempt to minimise the resistance towards the implemented change (Hechanova and Cementina-Olpoc, 2013).

Task 5 : Summary of key points

From the above critical evaluation, it can be assessed that leaders do have an important role to play when it comes to managing change within organisations. In this case, Unilever had intended to bring about a 100 per cent sustainability in its operations regarding Lipton Tea, and the management intended to realise this goal through a collaboration with a third-party sustainability certifier, the Rainforest Alliance, which is based in the US. The organisation also collaborated with various regional and local non-governmental organisations in Argentina and other countries where there was a lack of organised activity when it came to sustainable farming processed. This was seen as a problem, as the supply became rather fragmented.

However, the major issue that needs to be addressed by any organisation undergoing change is that of how to minimise the resistance that it would face from its workers or followers. In this particular case, Unilever could consider applying the theory of transformational leadership, as it is the most conducive theory for reducing the resistance that could be faced during change management. This could perhaps be attributed to the fact that transformational leaders take into account the opinions and suggestions of the workers as well, which lends them a sense of satisfaction as well as inclusivity with the organisation, thereby reducing the chances of facing any major resistance on their part. Employees usually tend to exhibit resistance and disagreement with the change when they feel threatened, or if they do not perceive any justified reason for the changes that are being brought about. However, transformational leaders ensure that their issues are taken into account, and this is all the more important when a strategic organisational change is being implemented.

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