Keep The Torch Lit When It Comes to Leadership

What would you do if your boss called a meeting and told you that everyone in the company was getting a raise and he was taking a 90 percent salary cut? That’s essentially what happened recently when Gravity Payments CEO Dan Price announced he would increase every employee’s minimum salary to $70,000 by 2024.

When he cut the ribbon on the new Gravity Payments office in Boise, Idaho and made the announcement, he said, “I’m so grateful to work with this amazing team and to be able to compensate them for the value they bring to our community.”

Price’s decision was inspired by a Princeton study he read about salaries and their connection to happiness. The study reports that the lower a person’s annual income falls below $75,000, the unhappier they feel. In addition to the study, Price explained that empowering employees was his primary motivation for the across-the-board increase.

Price said he believes the future of business differentiation is the ability to answer what you believe, how much integrity you have, and how you follow through.

While most companies could never afford to do what Price did, I admire his motivation for making a promise consistent with his values. It often makes perfect sense, but it isn’t always easy to apply.

In fact, Adam Fridman, founder of Mabbly, writes, “One of the biggest challenges around values and purpose is that people have a hard time translating ‘big ideas’ into specific actions and making those part of the culture over the long term.” Jenn Lim, Zappos consultant and CEO of Delivering Happiness, adds, “The problem is that everyone has a set of values but once they launch these programs, after a short while, everyone goes back to their old habits.”

Leaders clearly have to be the torchbearer for values-based actions. What’s more, they have to keep the torch lit. In other words, leaders have to define the company values that reflect their employees, then figure out their behaviors that turn those values into action. I like the way executive coach, Dr. Maynard Brusman, puts it, your values show up in four behaviors:

  1. How you spend your time
  2. Where you go
  3. What you say
  4. How you deal with problems and crises.

In Price’s case at Gravity, he values his employees and has a strong connection to following through on what he says. He’s chosen to honor this promise with an increase in compensation. What might be the way you carry the torch and keep it lit in your company?

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