Let’s Change How We Define Our Leaders

I believe greed is the current leadership in most organizations. There’s loads of fluff talk to get employees to fall into the trap. “Our vision is to make widgets the world needs to be healthy.” “We are providing financial freedom through environmentally-sustainable services.” Or the latest trend a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) such as “We will be Canada’s leading crap slinger.”

The reality is, while executives (those are the folks that are supposed to be your “leaders”) are only widely leading in one area. Too often, they aren’t smarter than you, they aren’t more caring than you about customers, they don’t even care as much about their job as you do. They only lead, in greed. Their total compensation – which by the way, you likely will never know, is the combination of several, sometimes dozens, even hundreds of employees salaries.

Want proof?

Look no further than Target Canada’s CEO who led the corporation to a disastrous start, middle, and end. Great job Gregg! Here’s $61 million in compensation. The remaining 17,600 employees got to split the $56 million budgeted for them (budget being a big word) which equals $3,181.82 per employee. Seem fair? Oh, and they were there to the end, dedicated to the company you destroyed and ran from faster than Usain Bolt. He’s currently a board member on The Toro Company and Retail Industry Leaders Association, because the latter really makes sense. (Source: Wikipedia 16 April 2015) Any one of the employees at Target Canada on the last day could have told you all of the things they would have done differently – the hard part for an executive such as Gregg to accept – they would have done a much better job then you!

Rich-Poor-2012 Pew
Pew Research, 2012

Leaders poor decisions make you pay. When a recession hits, you pay. When cutbacks are needed because targets they set weren’t met, you pay. When the dollar is low, you pay. When oil is low, you pay. When all of this happens together, you pay dearly. Meanwhile, they continue to get their pay and healthy bonuses while you struggle to make ends meet. That’s not leadership, that’s greed. And it shows as the rich getting richer, while the gap in between grows and the poor get poorer. There’s a reason you can’t get ahead, you’re not allowed.

We need to must change that!

I want to see more companies leading like the Gravity Payments in Seattle. Gravity’s CEO, a young, likely already wealthy leader, decided to share success evenly. He took a pay cut. Not a small one, a $930,000 pay cut! To some CEO’s this would be a week’s salary, but he was making $1 million. Now he’ll be making $70,000. Why?

“I really do view everything I do as a responsibility and seeing growing inequality and how it is harder to just make ends meet and live the normal American dream,” said Gravity’s CEO, Dan Price.


Responsibility? Growing inequality? Make ends meet? Live normal?

dan price gravity ceo

Dan Price is a leader. Leaders lead, they put themselves before others in a caring and thoughtful way. Hold Dan Price up high, because he also jacked his staff’s salaries to be a minimum of $70,000 a year. That’s the new minimum wage at Gravity. $70,000, no matter what job you do. Let that sink in as one employee cleans the sink at work.

Update 24 Apr 2015: Gravity seeing massive increase in new business and employment applications

So, the next time you are looking to work for a company, if their vision, mission, principles, BHAG or other fluff statement is missing a part about you as an employee, don’t bother. If you need to, set up your own business, and put people first. First your people, then you. Then you will see what success will look like – it’s a shared experience.

And make sure to read the About page on Gravity. You’ll see how important “our team,” “us,” “our reps,” and “community” are to them.

That is leadership. Every one of them is a leader, and that, has power! Let’s change how we define our leaders, starting now.


gravity-payments-teamHere’s some more information on Gravity and another great leader, Sir Richard Branson: