This week, I had the awesome opportunity to go for a beer with the Head of HR at Unilever.
Unilever is a leading global consumer goods company that produces many of the products in your kitchen, bedroom and bathroom cupboards.
On any given day, two billion people use Unilever products and the company has the mission to ‘meet everyday needs for nutrition, hygiene and personal care with brands that help people feel good, look good and get more out of life’.
Last year, Unilever turned over almost $50 billion, and employed nearly 175,000 people worldwide.
I was also intrigued by the Unilever ‘Sustainable Living Plan’ to decouple growth from environmental impact, while at the same time increasing positive social impact. So, by 2020, Unilever will:
- Help more than a billion people to improve their health and well-being.
- Halve the environmental footprint of it’s products.
- Source 100% of agricultural raw materials sustainably and enhance the livelihoods of people across it’s value chain.
So; the Head of HR for Unilever is a pretty important chap and a renowned business leader – no pressure then…
We had a great night.
The main reason for meeting was to talk broadly about how Unilever keeps it’s employees fit, healthy and productive. We spent a lot of time talking about this and also spoke in-depth about a wide range of other topics. Everything from running a business, personal-life and even why Wasps will beat Quins in the Aviva Rugby Premiership next year (optimistic thinking on my part?!).
Aside from the above, the most fascinating topic we spent a lot of time debating was ‘Leadership’.
I should say that although I’m about as ‘fluffy’ as a box of grit when it comes corporate jargon, Leadership is a concept that I take a real interest in, not only as a business owner and eldest of 4 brothers, but also as a Coach to my clients. One of my core values is to ‘lead by example’. For me this means ‘Practice what you preach. Don’t just tell people; show them. Be positive, don’t complain – be a Warrior’.
Unilever’s Head of HR is known as a fantastic ‘leader’, so I happily adopted the approach of ‘you have two ears, two eyes and one mouth – use them in that proportion’. This was one of those great opportunities to be ‘the least intelligent person in the room’, i.e. surround myself with and learn from people who are smarter than I am.
I’d like to pay it forward and give you one quote that he gave me to define Leadership, which I absolutely love.
“Leadership is just a simple, 3 word question…”
“What Matters Now?”
What he’s getting at is the concept of ‘Mindfulness’. Some of the General Health articles in my last blog giving you the ‘Top Recent Fitness Articles You Should Read‘ also cover this idea.
In essence, Mindfulness is paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.
I hope this gets you thinking about what really matters in whatever it is you’re doing, right now or in future – it has definitely made me think.
It could be leaving the outside world at the door of the gym or at the side of the pitch, and committing to training hard with focus, intensity and enjoyment for every second of your session.
Or, simply making sure you’re there, properly, for someone you care about that needs your support, rather than letting your mind drift elsewhere when they are counting on you.
There are hundreds of situations every day that require us to ‘be present’ to give our best as leaders, colleagues, friends, family, whatever it is.
I’ll certainly be asking myself “What Maters Now?” a lot more in future, to ensure I’m constantly benefiting my clients and those I care about.
I hope you gain as much from this quote as I have – let me know what you think!