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Leadership Assignment: Role of Leaders & Managers in Unilever



Leadership Assignment Part 1: Scenario and activity:

You are working as a human resources intern at your college /or [named organisation that you can gain access to /an organisation of your choice – your own place of work if appropriate] and have been asked by the Principal/CEO to investigate the impact of leaders and managers on the operations of the company. You will conduct a number of interviews within the organisation to compare and examine the role of a leader and the function of a manager.

You will conduct at least one interview with a member of the leadership team and one with a line manager to discuss their roles and how they respond to different situations that may arise.

You are to produce a report based on your findings for the senior leadership team.

Leadership Assignment Part 2: Scenario and activity:

Since reporting on the role of management and leadership within your college or the organization you selected in Part 1, the Principal/CEO have now asked you to feedback on best approaches and practices with regards to operations management. Write a report to the leadership team that will address how the leadership and management team can improve overall operations within the company.

To assist with this, you will need to investigate external business factors that influence operational management and the decisions the management team makes.


This leadership assignment is divided into two parts. The first part of the following report on the leadership and management concepts highlights the roles of managers and leaders within an organisation, analysing the differences between them by comparing their job roles and marking the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches to leadership and management. The second part of this report talks about the roles of leaders in managing the different operation of an organisation and how the leadership skills can regulate the impact of external environmental factors affecting the internal flow and the global position of the company.

Part 1 – Leadership and Management
The organisation selected to study the impact of the manager and the efficiency of the leaders working in an organisation is the most renowned multinational consumer goods company headquartered in London – Unilever. The company manufactures pharmaceuticals, beauty products, soft drinks, coffee energy drinks, food products, healthcare products and many more. Unilever has a product type divisional organisational structure. This is one of the best organisation management patterns that involve the division of the essential components of the company based on their specific product needs. For instance, this organisation has got a separate division to manage beauty products and a completely different organisation to manage pharmaceuticals. The main feature of the organisational management structure Unilever includes product type division, corporate executive teams, and geographical division (Sobratee and Bodhanya, 2018).

A leader is a person that influences the thoughts and actions of other people using his power of convincing and redefining approaches to a given problem. They look for the quick and intelligent results that could be found from the presentable sets of an idea. They tend to influence people so that their vision and goal for something becomes the goal of the fellow workers who are working under the leadership of such leaders. As a result, they end up ignoring the condition or the capability a particular employee may possess but wants to extract the maximum they could from the worker. On the other hand, managers are responsible for all the functions of an organisation. They bring stability to the organisational process by the quick resolution of a conflict arising in an organisational situation that may hamper the normal functioning of the company. The manager of a company is responsible for arranging, scheduling, course, control and harmonisation within the administration (Nayani et al., 2018).

Leaders generally possess the quality of foresightedness that gives the company a broader perspective for its future goals. In contrast, a manager has the intelligence factor to check the benefit a particular deal could fetch. Since the managers have to manage and facilitate the entire workflow of a given establishment, they avoid conflicts, organise people, focus on the process and organisation of a particular task, and accomplish the results. On the contrary, leaders use conflicts as an asset for the achievement of the goal if necessary. Their only aim is to grow and develop the organisation they are working for at any possible cost. Because of many such reasons, an organisation needs both managers and leaders for the strategic and sustainable development of the organisation (Figueroa et al., 2019).

The roles played by managers differ from the roles of a leader working within an organisation. Managers perform sophisticated duties like the ceremonial functions and strategic management of different sectors of the organisation. Signing the legal documents providing final approval to any work done within an organisation are the functions of a manager. Major important interpersonal roles are performed by the managers of a given company like decision making and performance analysis, as these functions are essential for the smooth functioning within an organisation. This figurehead role of the manager determines the ultimate position of the company in the market. The manager also has to perform the liaison role by motivating and encouraging the employee of a company through proper channelised communications and providing appropriate incentives for the workers. It encourages the employee to perform better in the future (Hammad and Hallinger, 2017).

For the uninterrupted functioning of any organisational setup, proper coordination is also vital between the workers and the managers, along with the leaders of the organisation. This role requires the manager to interact with the employees and provide a logical solution to their grievances. Resource allocation being a manager is a task that requires plenty of analytical skills on the part of the manager. Being a successful resource allocator is a tedious job as it requires one to have an open-door policy for the employees to express themselves in their genuine and unique ways as they are original. The originality of any work plays a significant role in completing a task (Connolly et al., 2019).

Managers are the representatives of the company, being the face of the company for the outside world. Hence the negotiator role of a manager plays a significant role in facilitating business moves. A manager negotiates with the employees for their commitment, cooperation, and integration for increasing the productivity of the company and being in the global product with the deserved value (Mayer, 2020).

Elton Mayo’s human relations theory holds good in the organisational management of the employees, which talks about the foundations of human relations being the critical element at improving the managerial skills within an organisation. According to this theory, satisfied employees tend to be more committed and productive when working in a conducive environment. When the workers feel valued and appreciated for their work done in different contexts, they feel motivated and tend to be more attentive towards the goal. This people-oriented managerial skill requires the management to accept the uniqueness of the individual and the essence of social bonds within the work environment.

Leadership roles are very diverse in their nature and demand strategic and systematic leadership skills. Some of the leadership functions include:

i) Marketing function, which involves identifying company goals and the realisation of the future opportunities available to the organisation. Hence the leader must have a forecasting managerial ability with a clear vision for the future (Willis et al., 2017).

ii) Procurement functions hold great importance to minimise the input and maximise the net output from the process. Situational leadership skills better handle such contents. An organisation with good leaders has a better position in the decisive functions of the organisation. Leaders are generally the most confident and disciplined, which are the characteristic feature of an autocratic leader. They prefer strategic planning and streamlined functions.

Leadership is not about how well a leader manages its employees but having a vision that is influential enough to motivate people to achieve the target of the organisation. The potentials that are contained in the workers of the company needs to be unleashed and nurtured, depending on the needs of the company. Different leaders take up different approaches for this purpose (Gopinath, 2020).

  1. Transformational approach: This approach is taken by such leaders who have a lot of visionary capabilities to inspire others and encourage critical thinking in the employees of the organisation. This approach to leadership transforms the way of thinking and solving an issue that the workers encounter.
  2. Situational approach: These leaders are the most efficient ones as they are very flexible in leading a company or an organisation. As they work according to the needs and aspirations of their situations, they allow an open-minded approach to functioning (Baltaci and Balc?, 2017).
  3. Value-based approach: Leadership inspired by the core values is the best leadership style that would suit any organisation. Instead of focusing too much on the metrics, the value-based leadership approach focuses on the organisational task and resolutions. This leadership approach is world-famous and adopted by many great leaders and scientists like A.P.J Abdul Kalam.
  4. Participatory approach: Empowering employees to make them more responsible and aware of their working terms is the basic idea behind the participatory approach to leadership (Demir et al., 2021).
  5. Contingency approach: The effectiveness of a leader in management is decided by the success of the contingent on if the particular leadership style worked out for the institution and brought the best out of it. This approach emphasises that a leader can be effective in one business situation but can be ineffective in another. When there is a significant increase in organisational productivity without much increase in effect, the leadership style is the reason behind such success. The contingency approach is just like the situational leadership style, where a leader acts according to the need of the organisation and goal-oriented actions are taken in due course of it.

These leaders work closely with their fellow employees and have equal participation in the decision-making process. This leadership approach involves the bottom-up approach instead of the traditional top-down approach, where the employees do not have any say in the decisions of the leaders, which will affect them the most in their result.

Managerial approaches differ from the leadership approaches in many ways as they are more oriented towards the stability of the organisation of the company and less towards the needs and aspiration of the people. They take the top-down approach in the solution to any problem. However, there are some approaches in human relations management which look into the human resource of the company and value them as any resource necessary for its functioning (Katou, 2017).

Based on the above approaches adopted by the leaders and managers of an organisation, it can be seen that the leadership approaches are more realistic in the organisational environment and could be implemented with great ease in a multinational company like “Unilever”. Leadership roles differ with the varying operations of an organisation. Some of them apply to different contexts are:

  1. Great Man theory of leadership, being the oldest theory of leadership, tells that leadership is an inborn phenomenon and this way, only they are differentiated from the crowd. These personality traits include – intellect, communication skills, social aptitude and charm and that all these qualities are present in an individual since birth.
  2. Another theory is very prevalent in the leadership style for organisational setup, known as transactional theory. This theory emphasises motivating the employees on the primary working system of rewards and punishments (Bouranta et al., 2019).

Leaders and managers are the torch-bearers of an organisation. A company with great human resource but poor managerial skills and ill leadership approaches cannot reach the zenith of success in the business environment. They set the context and systematic planning through which the company has to undergo to meet the goals and aspirations of the organisation (Offermann and Coats, 2018). Leaders inspire a shared vision of the goals and provide the motivating incentives for completing the targets set by them; this inspires them to perform even better in future job roles. The managers, on the other hand, manage and look for the stability of the company by the quick dispute resolution and by providing resolution to conflicts that may hamper the position of the organisation.

Part 2 – Leaders and the operations management
Operations management pertains to managing, planning, viewing and analysing the operations and processes within an organisation. Operations management involves the strategic planning of utilising the critical resources available to the company at any given point of time, the past experiences of the company in various scenarios of the work culture and effective management of the human resources. Effective operations management ensures the accountability and the accuracy of a successful project (Sehnem and Pereira, 2017). In this context, Systems leadership theory holds a vital concept that tells that a particular set of capabilities and learnings that a leader or the business setup can employ to bring the change in the system-level of management. This lead generation technique consists of building collaborative leadership skills, where leaders work in collaboration with others and make the best out of each level. A decentralisation system occurs, which ensures that the best employee performs every vital operation in an organisation. It is not concentrated in the hands of a few. Numerous functions are performed by the operations management team working in a business organisation like finance, strategy, operations, product design, forecasting, workflow and staffing, and a smooth supply chain supervision.

The role of the managers in the critical operational functions of an organisation are as follow:

  1. Finance: The chief role in operations management is played by finance. It is essential to make sure that the company's finances are utilised optimally to complete the target. In financial mismanagement, a good project may turn out to be very burdensome if the resource allocations are not done strategically. Managers have a great deal to perform here in the finance of an organisation as they know both sides, including the assets and liabilities of an organisation.
  2. Strategy: The planning tactics that a company sets to optimise the utilisation of the available resources and being in a competitive edge over others globally is a part of the strategic management of the company. Managers are the chief of such operations management involving the optimum utilisation of the human resources, maintaining supply chain configuration, and holding money (Al-Sa’di et al., 2017).
  3. Operations: This side of operation management is primarily concerned with planning, organising, directing, and controlling all the business activities going throughout the organisation. In this operation, the role of managers is to ensure that the raw materials procured from various sources and the human resource present and work efficiently to meet the customer needs.
  4. Product design: The design of the product design the sale value of that particular product in the global competitive market. Hence, product design is a very innovative task and requires unique and creative skills to do with it. Innovative technologies play a crucial role in improving the product design making it more attractive and appealing (Prajogo et al., 2018).
  5. Forecasting: This particular operation management requires great analytic skill so that the manager to have an idea of the assets and liabilities of an organisation. Forecasting also refers to estimating the customer's demands, likes and dislikes, which decides the initiatives to be taken for customer-oriented manufacturing.
  6. Staffing: Operations managers are seen to have a good handle on the staffing requirements of the company. These managers work with the human resource department to hire and train the employees according to different job roles. The development of human resource is one of the crucial aspects for the better performance of an organisation. A company with stagnated human resource never performs well in diverse competition situations (Fontana and Musa, 2017).
  7. Supervision of supply chain: The production process requires an uninterrupted supply of the raw materials that are used and essential goods supporting the manufacturing process. This particular feature of operation management is seen by the managers of the company, ensuring a smooth supply chain network.

There are numerous operations in an organisation that needs to be done with specific approaches that best handles them. The common thing between all the operational processes is that they all take their inputs as raw constituents, knowledge, capital and transform them into finished goods and services. Critical operational approaches to operations management are in the form of four V’s:

  1. Volume approach: This approach talks about the lesser input, a maximum output that can be achieved from the proper management of the operations. The volume approach is the key to success behind any big or small manufacturing company.
  2. Variety approach: the variety approach is the smartest of all the other ways possible. Increasing the variety of goods and services attracts more and more customer to a particular organisation. In a fast world, people look for brands that can cover their maximum daily needs to not hover over other brands and waste their time. In the case of Unilever, too, they have adopted this "variety approach" to be what they are today.
  3. Visibility approach: Transparency of operation management plays a significant role in bringing customer satisfaction. A developed visibility dimension includes those courier companies where a customer can track the package online and can readily see the movement of the package and the delivery details. This ensures proper communication with the consumer, which brings satisfaction from the customer end. High-efficiency employees can ensure the visibility approach, developed technology and guidance (Singh et al., 2020).
  4. Variation approach: This management approach looks into the cost-benefit ratio and examines the output that can be achieved and if that output is desired or less than expected. This approach type increases production efficiency and better management of time (Ivanov et al., 2017).

Apart from the approaches to operations management, many other factors determine and influences the decision-making process of leaders and managers. One is the external business environment (Hamdoun et al., 2018). It affects the internal environment of the organisation a great deal. Those factors are commonly known as external corporate environmental factors and are as follows:

  1. Competition: This is one of the constant external environmental factors that always stays in an organisational setup. This is healthy for the development of an organisation as it works as a constant motivation for the employees to do something better than the previous time. Managers perform more efficiently in such competitive scenarios (Wesselink et al., 2017).
  2. Politics: Politicising the business environment affects the customer aspirations and the workflow of an organisation. Hence a developing company should always try to remain out of politics as much as possible. Bad politics restricts the growth and development of the company (Hahm, 2018).
  3. Customers and suppliers: Customers and suppliers are the key regulators of the growth of a particular organisation. Here the power of the customer is ultimate, and it lies in the fact that a consumer has the right to choose what they want for themselves and what they do not. Demands and supply determine the impact of cost.
  4. Economy: The economy is the backbone of any business organisation. Controlling the economy is as tricky as impossible. Still, knowing the factors that affect the economy may help keep a check on it and reduce the risk of economic threats and liabilities (Iqbal and Ahmad, 2021).

Management plays a crucial role in bringing the employee-wellbeing by the proper execution of the following strategies of management:

  1. Training the employees and refining their skills is a very detrimental step in increasing business operations efficiency. This is the job of human resource management, by updating the employees to advanced technologies, skills and operations management.
  2. Putting the people of the organisation first is a great approach to increase the efficiency of the operations. When the workers feel valued and praised for their efforts, they strive to do better in future job role (Bowers et al., 2017).
  3. Improvement of customer service ensures the satisfaction of the customers.
  4. Rising the bar sometimes prove to be of fair use in operations management. The settlement of an organisation to the status quo can never lead to the improvement and increased efficiency of its workers, but they will always try to be the best version of themselves (Cole et al., 2019).

For an organisation to be effectively functional, it needs to have a robust operations management system with good leadership and managerial skills. The report presented here highlights some critical aspects of leadership and how leadership influences operations management, which is crucial to the development of that company to survive in this competitive market. The operational approaches that are opted by the leaders and managers also influence the internal work environment of the company and not only the supply chain mechanism. The external business environment also influences the decision making of the leaders within the organisation. Having a positive working environment with good human resource management can boost the morale of the employees working within the organisation, thus increasing productivity.

Reference list
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