Be an Owner: Set Your Own Salary
There comes a time in business when you have to put your money where your mouth is, and that time for me is now. For the last little while I’ve been asking my executive team to take it to the next level. They are at the top of our organization and I want to see them shine. I want them to “act like an owner.”
It’s a strange concept, I’ll admit, for people who don’t have their name on the company masthead to act as though they do. But I want the executive team to feel about Gibbons the way I feel about Gibbons — that it’s a business of untapped opportunity, ripe for the picking.
I felt so strongly about this idea of acting like an owner that we incorporated it into the core principles at Gibbons, alongside the three other values of: be fun, be kind, be trustworthy. The idea is for the senior leadership to shift from the secure mindset of a manager, safe behind the Gibbons brand, to the riskier mindset of an owner; in essence, becoming the Gibbons brand.
If the top team is invested in the success of Gibbons just as I am, if they’re continually striving to make the business better just as I am, if they care about it just as much as I do, I think Gibbons will be bolder and better and stronger. It goes back to the very way in which we run the business — democratic leadership. Many voices and ideas and expectations are better than just one.
If the members of the senior executive team are “acting like an owner” then they will be pursuing opportunities with the passion and drive of an owner.
I soon realized however, that it’s one thing to ask people to “act like an owner” and it’s quite another thing to put that concept into action.
The opportunity arose when it came to the question of compensation this year and I was asked to make a decision on raises.
I thought about this long and hard. If I’m asking them to “act like an owner,” why I am deciding their salaries? Shouldn’t that be their decision? After all, that’s what an owner does. An owner decides what to get paid. An owner decides if they get a bonus. So should they.
As any business owner will tell you, you only get a raise if you’re making more money. If you’re going to bump up your salary to the next level, you have to be able to show why that works for the business as a whole and you have to answer to the team. With ownership comes great responsibility and sacrifice. It also brings the possibility of great reward.
I’m expecting the former from my team and I’m willing to offer the later. And I think it’s going to pay off in the long run… for Gibbons and for the team.