Lancefield on the Line

Paul Polman: Creating companies that give more than they take

September 14, 2022 David Lancefield Season 3 Episode 1
Lancefield on the Line
Paul Polman: Creating companies that give more than they take
Show Notes Chapter Markers

Time is running out for our planet. We are taking more than we are giving. CSR targets don’t go far enough. And societal inequality is on the rise. It requires a rethink of how we do business, how we lead organisations, how we measure impact.

Who better to set out the manifesto for change than Paul Polman, the former CEO of Unilever and co founder of Imagine One. He’s done what he’s advocated; turned a global company into a force for good whilst still delivering exceptional shareholder value. He’s now become an advocate, catalyst, ambassador, writing a book called ‘Net Positive: with Andrew Winston. It sets our how businesses should and can give back more to the world than they take, and why it matters.

We talk about:

  • What Net Positive means and why it’s a better concept that Net Zero.
  • What stops CEOs from taking the necessary action.
  • What it takes to learn and unlearn new leadership and business practices.
  • Whether it’s possible to develop a new mindset of systemic leadership if you’ve been a short-term, mercenary leader.
  • The three characteristics of CEOs he would look for.
  • Critical moments in a CEO’s tenure that can make or break their contribution to addressing these systemic issues.
  • His own personal habits that help him do extraordinary work.

About Paul:

Paul works to accelerate action by business to achieve the UN Global Goals, which he helped develop. As CEO of Unilever (2009-2019), he demonstrated that a long-term, multi-stakeholder model goes hand-in-hand with excellent financial performance, and has been described by the Financial Times as "a standout CEO of the past decade." 

Paul’s new book, “Net Positive”, is a call to arms to courageous business leaders, setting out how to build net positive companies which profit by fixing the world’s problems rather than creating them. He Chairs IMAGINE and Saïd Business School, and is Vice-Chair of the UN Global Compact as well as B Team Leader. Paul is Honorary Chair of the International Chamber of Commerce, which he led for two years.

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Meaning of ‘net positive’
What stops CEO taking action
Learning and unlearning
Shifting your mindset
Paul’s role and contribution
Three characteristics of a CEO
Critical moments
Paul’s habits