upstart thoughts on talent and leadership

CEOs Taking $1 Salaries: Matching the Behavior of Optimism to the Rhetoric of Optimism

In ! Jen, Leaders on Tuesday, November 9, 2010 at 4:05 am

Recall the Robert Browning poem that begins: “Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be.”

There is a growing number of CEOs who, by taking an annual base salary of $1, are sending the message: “Follow me, the best is yet to be.”

Choosing to take one’s compensation in annual and long-term incentives is an interesting conception, with great symbolic meaning. But no one would think for a second that the $1 CEO is being unselfish or taking a path of martyrdom. Rather, he shows he’s willing to have skin in the game; truly believing lasting results will be far superior to any short-term expedients satisfying annual goals alone.

No doubt the net-net for these CEOs will be far fatter coin when dollars are ultimately tallied years from now. And personally, I’d much rather follow the leader who puts her money and true faith where her mouth is.

Great quote from the HBR blog linked above: Executives who realize that leadership is not about being lavished with personal riches, receiving attention, or being served but rather by creating value, developing others, and serving the community are those who inspire the trust and confidence of their colleagues.

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